With Kids Heading to College, Think About These Two Documents to Protect Them

Many thoughts run through the heads of parents of college age children. How much is tuition? Where are they living? Who are they living with? What about food? Do they pay for utilities? What about books and lab fees? It's maddening. Most parents will overlook two documents that may make their life a lot easier as their child heads out for higher learning.

1. A Durable Power of Attorney

At the age of 19 and older, your child is no longer a minor automatically under your control. They are a legally independent and afforded all rights associated with achieving the age of majority - including a right to privacy and protection of assets. With a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) naming you as their agent for financial affairs, you can provide funds to your child and manage those funds without owning the account. In the case of a child in college, it permits a parent to set up an account in a child's name, while allowing the child to be responsible for the account and begin to create a credit history. Although the child owns the account, the DPOA allows you as the parent to access, review and manage the account. So, you can see if they are running out of funds and add more.

2. A Health Care Power of Attorney

Again, at the age of 19 and older, your rights as parent cease to exist when it comes to their health care. If your child suffers an illness or accident that left him or her incapable of making health care decisions or arranging treatment, or if you want access to their medical records or make decisions for them, you may be out of luck. Once they reach the age of 19, technically only your child can make decisions about their care.

It may be a simple injury, illness, or broken bone that brings this to light. Your child can seek treatment, but may need your help finding the right surgeon to repair the knee or to find the right place for rehabilitation. Having you named as agent under a health care power of attorney allows you to talk to doctors or medical facilities on their behalf and help your child make the best decisions possible. Without a health care durable power of attorney, you may have to get a court authority to help handle their affairs.

With valid financial and health care power of attorneys, you will be permitted legally to take care of your child's important affairs - for example, managing bank accounts, paying bills, or directing health care decisions.

You may wonder why you can't cover health care matters and finances in just one power of attorney document. Technically, you can, but it isn't really a good idea. For instance, your health care documents are may contain personal details that a bank manager does not need to know. Similarly, health care providers don't need to be burdened with financial details.

If you need to prepare these documents, or have questions about what you need to set in place for a college student, contact attorney Michelle Miller-McCoy at 402-253-0320 to set up a free consultation with Michelle.

Retrieved from : "Estate Planning KC: Kids heading out this fall? You may want to do this first" By Todd Rasmussen

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