Power of Attorney for Your Kids?
I have to admit. I haven't even thought about this as a potential planning need. Husbands and wives draw up powers of attorneys on each other all of the time. However, I have rarely thought about this on a child. A power of attorney document gives another person power to make decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Jennifer Guimond-Quigley, estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Jennifer Guimond-Quigley , shares insight on why families should encourage their children leaving home for college to put powers of attorney in place.
She explains below why it is a good idea.
Medical Decision-making and Access to Medical Records
While college is meant for students to enjoy new experiences, being away from home can come with real risks. Whether it is a Spring Break mishap or an accident in a dorm room, the unexpected can happen to college students while they are away, and can sometimes render them unconscious and unable to make their own medical decisions. A health care power of attorney allows the principal (in this case, a college student) to appoint an agent (most likely a parent or guardian) to make medical decisions when that individual is unable to do so. The Power of Attorney will also allow doctors to discuss the child’s condition and care with the appointed agent.
A financial power of attorney grants a parent the ability to transact in financial matters on behalf of the child, in the event of the child's disability. This can be especially important for a parent of a college student to ensure that the child’s school accounts and documents can still be accessed and dealt with in the event of the child’s incapacity. It can also allow a parent to negotiate with a landlord related to a lease the child may have signed. Lastly, any bank or other financial accounts the child may have can be accessed by the agent for the child’s benefit.
Having these documents in places gives legal authority to a designated and trusted parent or guardian to act on behalf of the child with matters related to healthcare and property. Without these documents, there is a strong chance that the parent will not be able to deal with accounts, the school, or medical professionals without first obtaining legal guardianship through the court, which can be expensive and time consuming.
I thought her reasoning was pretty sound. Now you might write this off as a low probability event and not worth the cost or the time. However, isn't estate planning in general to protect you from the low probability event? It is a low cost form that might give you a little bit of peace of mind.