A power of attorney is often the last thing a college student thinks about when they leave home for the first time and begin their studies. This legal document may seem unnecessary at first glance, but in reality, it’s an important mechanism that can be an invaluable tool in an emergency.
When a child reaches 18 years of age their parents lose the ability to make decisions on the child’s behalf and no longer have access to their children’s personal information. Young adults who have reached majority are legally entitled to make their own decisions, but there may be instances where they are unable to do so and require their families to act on their behalf.
When a Power of Attorney is required
If a college student experiences a medical emergency without a legally enforceable power of attorney already in place, the parents of that student are faced with the prospect of being unable to make critical decisions for their child in their time of need.
If the child is incapacitated, the only viable solution for the parents is to engage in a lengthy and expensive legal process to be named as guardians.
In addition, if the adult child is studying abroad and needs to transact business in the United States, for example, signing a lease or performing some banking transactions, a parent may only help if a valid power of attorney is in place.
A power of attorney can be drafted to only apply to specific areas of the college student’s affairs with defined start and end dates. While templates are available, the best practice is to have a legal professional with experience in this field create a power of attorney specific to the student’s needs at the time.
Professional legal services
It may not feel like a priority, but without a power of attorney, your child may be exposed to unnecessary risks when they leave home to attend college.
This can be avoided by making a power of attorney one of the first items on your checklist before your child leaves for college. Contact a professional legal expert you can trust to guide you through the process.