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Why in the World Does a College Student Need a Power of Attorney?

The whole idea might seem somewhat counterintuitive. Why in the world does a college student need a power of attorney? Your mind may immediately go to the fact that most college kids are directly out of high school. Therefore, advanced age is not an issue. Meanwhile, it’s critical to think of the unexpected.

Sending your child off to college comes with its share of concerns. For most parents, it’s not just that their pockets may seemingly get a little lighter from the cost of their children’s education.  Financial obligations aside – moms and dads have bigger worries. In a worst case scenario, what happens if the college student becomes incapacitated? Just who’s in charge?

The risk is higher than you might like to think. Truth be told, college kids think they are somewhat invincible, although their parents most likely disagree.

Take for example the story of Jason. He’s always excelled in school. In fact, he graduated as the valedictorian from a class of over 500 kids. He’s reliable and cautious by nature.

Meanwhile, accidents happen. As Jason is walking across the street, a car zooms through the intersection and tosses Jason into the air. He needs medical attention but is not in a position to consent on his own.  Even so, that consent may not be so important if it’s an issue of an emergent nature.

Jason’s mom receives a phone call about the accident. As she listens from her home in a neighboring state, Mom’s eyes are teary. The hospital wants to know if Jason has a power of attorney. Why is this even important?  According to the hospital representative, the mother will then be able to make critical decisions regarding her son’s medical care – provided that she is named to do so. Otherwise, consent is only implied when it comes to medical necessity.

The headache can get even bigger. It’s almost a bit of a Catch 22. Jason is an adult and his privacy rights are protected under HIPAA laws.  His hospitalization may be related to something entirely different. That said, medical providers need signed releases in order to pass on private information.

Durable Power of Attorney of Healthcare

There are a ton of things associated with preparing for the trip off to college. Although shopping for dorm accessories sounds like fun, parents may also want to consider meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney.

A simple document may prove essential in the case of a student’s incapacitation.  However, it is notable that it is up to your child to decide who should make medical decisions in the event that he or she is not able to do so. In most cases, children choose one of their parents for this important role.  This individual is known as the health care agent.

When college kids and their parents meet with an estate planning attorney, they may be provided with different options. For example, one choice could allow parents to only step in when the student can’t speak to express his or her wishes.  In some cases, the power of attorney may permit the health care agent to immediately make decisions.

For parents who are newly coping with their child flying the nest, the associated feeling of helplessness is understandable. The Healthcare Power of Attorney provides a form of emotional support. HIPAA release forms are standardly executed with this type of document.

Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters

You might chuckle at the thought that a college kid would need a power of attorney for financial matters. After all, they often have absolutely no money of their own.

That said, even if it’s you putting money in student bank accounts, you’ll need a way to get into the accounts in certain situations. The student’s name is often the one on the tuition bill, as well as the apartment lease. A signed power of attorney allows a parent to conduct the necessary financial transactions. This is quite beneficial when it comes to concerns about bank overdrafts or bills that could wind up in collections.

Contact Us

At the Fellerman & Ciarimboli law firm, our estate planning attorneys can help parents and their college-bound children put some important safeguards in place. Give us a call before it’s time to go back to school!

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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