This is the time of year when many parents are doing their back to school shopping. If you have a college-bound child, you are probably even more overwhelmed about getting him outfitted for dorm life, buying a new computer and preparing to drop him off hundreds, or even thousands of miles from home.
What you may have forgotten in all the chaos is that your little bundle of joy has reached the age of 18. That means that, at least it the eyes of the law, he is an adult. Mom or Dad can no longer make his decisions for him, respond to his mail, talk to his doctor, etc. without his consent.
There were numerous stories about the parents of Virginia Tech students who were injured when a gunman attacked that campus. When the frantic parents called local hospitals to try to locate their children, the hospitals were unable to release any information.
What could happen?
It may be hard to imagine, but there are several potential emergencies where you could find yourself with a similar problem. Consider these scenarios:
- What if your child receives a notice for jury duty or needs to renew a driver’s license or car registration while he is away at college?
- How will he get money in the event of an emergency? You will not be allowed to access his account if you do not share a joint account.
- What if he is away from campus on an internship or spending a semester abroad? He might not be able to travel back and forth from college to home on short notice or until after a deadline has passed.
- What if there is an accident and you need information about his injuries or health care? If your child calls and leaves a message that he was taken to the hospital for a sport-related injury or a car accident, you may be surprised when you call and the hospital will not confirm or deny that your child has even been admitted.
Here's the solution
Luckily, the solution to these issues is simple. Many banks and brokerage firms offer a free limited power of attorney for individual accounts. These powers of attorney allow the parent to deposit financial aid checks, make withdrawals, etc.
A designation of patient advocate will allow a parent to receive information about the child’s health care status, get copies of medical records and discuss his care with health care providers. As with any important legal paperwork, the parties involved should thoroughly discuss the documents before they are signed. Make sure the student understands why the documents are needed, that he can revoke them at any time and how and when Mom and Dad will use those powers of attorney. Most importantly, make sure the school and the college infirmary know about the documents and have a copy on file.
Questions? Contact us for a free consultation!