Back to SchoolJune 22, 2018
It is that wonderful time of year when our high school graduate children are packing their rooms to go off to college and/or trade school. Some are choosing to move out on their own and immediately join the workforce!
What a relief you may be thinking – less laundry, less stuff lying around the house, more storage space and maybe even the conversion of that bedroom into your exercise room, man cave or hobby room. Unfortunately, most of the time, our children’s stuff seems to stay behind from much longer than anticipated. You will have all those science projects, papers with stars and report cards until they get married. And THEN, the new spouse does not want that stuff cluttering up THEIR house. Get used to it – you are stuck storing their stuff for as long as you live!
To scare you even more, once your child turns 18, the government considers them to be an ADULT! In your eyes, they are still wet behind the ears and are not capable of making any major decisions, let alone manage their finances. How many of us have met the child who thought that as long as she had checks in her checkbook, she had money to spend! And the overdraft notices start flowing in!
If your child gets sick and is hospitalized, the health care providers cannot answer any of your questions until your child signs a HIPAA Medical Release authorizing them to speak with you. I had a client whose 19-year-old son was attending college and contracted Meningitis. His roommates called the parent to let them know he was being rushed to the hospital unconscious. Dad calls the hospital and no one will give him any information so he drives 4 hours thinking the worse is happening. He is clearly not in a great mental state to be behind the wheel of a 3,000-pound vehicle. Guess what – he shows up and finds out that son is in intensive care on a respirator and they still won’t talk to him!
This can all be avoided by having your child sign a General Power of Attorney naming you as the Agent. The Power of Attorney should contain both financial and medical powers and should be broadly drafted to cover the unanticipated event! Your child can revoke it in the future when they no longer need your assistance but in the meantime, you will be able to access the information to you need to assist them.
The existence of a General Power of Attorney is also important as you move thru the financial aid maze. You need the ability to resolve issues with the FASFA form and talk to lenders about the various forms of aid available. Although your child can call and ask questions, often information gets lost in translation and their lack of financial experience limits their ability to ask the right questions.
Finally, the General Power of Attorney allows their college, school or university to speak with you. Wouldn’t you want to know if your child had quit attending classes, dropped out or heaven forbid, simply disappeared?
The existence of a General Power of Attorney is just as important if your child joins the workforce. Who will know if they fail to show up to work? Are they sick or have they been kidnapped?
As you pack up your child for the next step in their lifelong journey, be sure to include the General Power of Attorney. It is just as important, and maybe more than the new alarm clock for their dorm room.
The attorneys at Daley Zucker Meilton & Miner are available to answer any questions you may have relating to Powers of Attorney and other legal issues impacting our now “adult” children.