The time preparing for and the first few weeks of your son or daughter heading offing to college are usually filled with excitement, planning, paperwork, shopping, and adjustments.  One often overlooked important task is asking him or her to sign a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. This is even more important if heading for a semester or year abroad.

These estate planning documents allow you (the parent) to have the legal authority to make financial and health care decisions should your child become incapacitated while at school. The alternative is needing court approval during a stressful situation. These are incredibly powerful documents and your child should appoint someone they trust implicitly. While we’ve never had a clients’ child suffer a disabling event, the threat is real and numerous horror stories heard.

The health care proxy allows access to medical records and ability to make medical decisions on your behalf. You also have the option to include more specific language regarding organ/tissue donation.

The durable power of attorney allows you to make financial decisions on your child’s behalf, such as, transferring money from a bank account or breaking a lease. This power also provides authority to see grades since schools do not have to disclose this information without a student’s permission. If this is a touchy subject, the power of attorney can restrict a parent’s authority to bills only.

We encourage you as the parent to introduce the subject since kids are focused on roommates, packing and anything else besides this topic. Free updated versions of these documents for each State can be found at www.caringinfo.org.