Get Power of Attorney for College Bound Students

Get Power of Attorney for College Bound Students

By Elizabeth Hartley

 In all of the excitement of planning for college, there is a critical component many parents fail to consider; getting power of attorney for their student.  Parents need power of attorney for all students over 18 in order to be able to assist with their medical, educational and legal issues.  If you do not have power of attorney for your student, discuss these points below with your attorney to determine if this is the right step for you.

People assume they have more rights to their student’s information than they really possess.  Even though your student is on your health insurance plan and you pay all of his or her medical bills, that does not entitle you to make medical decisions for them in case of an emergency or to get full details of their health crisis or injuries.  Even if you pay all of the costs of a child’s college expenses, it does not entitle you to see his or her grades of discuss their education with a counselor.  If you student is out of the country on a study abroad program for the year and they get a jury summons, you are not allowed to work on their behalf to get excused from duty.  All of these issues and many more can be avoided or handled if you have power of attorney.

The person to whom power of attorney is granted is called the “attorney-in-fact”. If you become the attorney-in-fact, you can manage financial and legal matters on behalf of your child over 18.  You can help them with everyday tasks like renewing a passport, responding to a speeding ticket or jury summons or even a car registration.

On the other hand, having power of attorney can be essential when faced with a medical crisis.  These are just a few points to consider when thinking about getting power of attorney for your student.  Here are a few others:

If your child is at school many hours away- Power of attorney is more important in this situation because he or she cannot run home on short notice to address small items that may spring up.  In your student’s absence, you can renew their passport, pay the property taxes on their car and handle other “housekeeping” items on their behalf.

Current/Ongoing Legal Issue– If there is an ongoing court case from a traffic incident or other lawsuit, it is important for parents to be able to act on the student’s behalf when dealing with the courts or lawyers.

If Your Child Studies Abroad- Before you send your child overseas for a month, semester or a year, make sure you have the authority to handle all of their legal affairs in their absence.  You can renew their tag, help get them registered for an upcoming term, respond to court documents and make their healthcare decisions as long as you have power of attorney.

Medical emergency- I recently spoke to a mother whose son went to college and was hospitalized with an emergency case of alcohol poisoning.  Even though he was on her insurance policy, she had a very difficult time getting information about his condition and in making the decisions regarding his care.  Power of attorney could have made the event much less stressful and would have allowed her to make decisions on his behalf.

Getting power of attorney in advance can be one of the smartest things you can do for your student.   Laws can vary by state so make sure you ask your attorney about how to have all of these potential scenarios covered before your child heads off to school.  It may be one of the smartest things you do for them.


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