It’s Time To Start or To Return To College – Did Your Son or Daughter Leave You With A Power of Attorney?

Do You Need A Power of Attorney from Your College Student?

It’s that time of year when our college aged children go back to college and we may not see them again until Thanksgiving.  But, they might need our help inn between, and without a power of attorney that might mean trouble.  We tend to think that powers of attorney are for the elderly.  And, it’s true that a well drafted and customized power of attorney can help us to manage a parent or grandparent’s affairs, and to make health care decisions, to get medical records and to generally get done what needs to get done.

But, when a college student needs help we are often powerless to help – even as parents.  Once your child turns 18, you need a HIPPA authorization to talk with their doctor or to get copies of their medical records.  Want to see their grades?  Well, you’d better be on good terms with that college aged student because without their permission, or  a power of attorney you’re not getting a copy from the school. And no, just because you pay the tuition doesn’t override the school’s privacy policy.

Have a student that needs you to do banking while they are away at school?  Again, you might need a power of attorney.

So, if you need a HIPPA authorization or a power of attorney to cover your ability to help or to be directly involved if there is a medical or other emergency what is a parent to do?

First, your son or daughter is now an adult.  Talk to them like one.  Explain that in the event they have a medical emergency or need you to help with finances, then you’ll need a HIPPA authorization and a medical power of attorney and possible a financial power of attorney.  They should also know, that such documents can be revoked at any time, so they remain in charge of their own affairs. You should also agree in advance how and why such documents would be used.

Will this be expensive?  Probably not. Most banks and brokerage firms offer their own limited powers of attorney for individual accounts and these are free.  Many law firms offer a free consultation for family members of their clients or for new clients and many also offer discounted fees for college students or family members of their clients.  Make sure that the discounted fees will include a durable or limited power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and a living will (if desired) and a HIPPA authorization.  With these documents, you’ll have the ability to get grades, deal with financial emergencies or ordinary transactions, and with medical issues including emergencies.

Without them, you might be shut out of certain information and decision making pending an expensive guardianship proceeding in court just to get certain powers and information that would be automatic with the above estate planning.

Finally, it’s not too early for a young adult to start thinking about a basic will.  This summer I had a number of young clients come to see me after their parents’ appointments to do wills before they went back to school.  Mention it for your college aged student to consider.

For information our Family Consultation Plans(TM) and Family Estate Planning Clinics(TM) call David M. Frees III at 610-933-8069 or email David at

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