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Power of Attorney Forms for a Child: 5 Questions Parents Ask

As students everywhere prepare to head into a school year unlike any other, uncertainties and challenges abound. A smart move for many parents is to put a young adult power of attorney form in place before their children head off to college.

In this post, we answer five of the most common questions we receive from parents investigating a power of attorney form for a child and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision that prioritizes the safety and wellbeing of your family.

1. Why do I need a young adult power of attorney form?

If you’re asking this question, you’re in good company. It’s where many parents start. A health care power of attorney form is one of the documents you need when a child turns 18. The other two forms are documents Mama Legal Bear Forms also provides – a financial power of attorney form and a HIPAA authorization form.

We often assume that because we’re married or a parent, we have automatic authority to handle decisions for our loved ones. Once a child turns 18, or in the case of medical care in some states, when children are as young as 12, parents no longer have the right to make medical or financial decisions for them.

Absent a power of attorney form and healthcare power of attorney form, parents are not authorized to help adult children manage their financial, legal or healthcare decisions. By age 18, HIPAA privacy laws pull the curtain fully closed and doctors, banks and insurance companies will no longer communicate with a parent about a child’s account or health condition.

Specific laws vary by state, so the situation can become more convoluted when a child attends college out of state. The most common reasons a parent may need to help an adult child make medical or financial decisions are maturity and incapacity.

2 Reasons for a Power of Attorney Form – Maturity and Incapacity

Many people aren’t ready at age 18 to take on all the responsibilities of adulthood. Events rise that are beyond their experience to handle. College students may inadvertently land themselves in credit card debt and need help from parents to make the financial moves necessary to climb out.

Sadly, accidents can happen at any time that cause an adult child to become incapacitated. Someone who normally makes wise, level-headed decisions may become impaired temporarily by an illness or accident and need assistance making medical and financial decisions.

Every adult should have a durable power of attorney for health care and the same for financial decisions because these forms designate who is authorized to handle medical and financial decisions in an emergency.

Without these forms, a state may appoint a guardian or conservator for you. Not only can it not be the parent, but the process can be complex and expensive. Power of attorney forms eliminate this concern.

2. Where do I get power of attorney forms?

Mama Bear Legal Forms offers affordable power of attorney (POA) templates and healthcare POA forms you can customize for your children and state(s) of residence. Our Young Adult Power of Attorney Package includes all three documents your college child needs for only $79 – a significantly lower price than the average attorney fee for preparing such documents.

Can I find POA templates online for free?

A quick internet search for free power of attorney forms online returns many results. While some states do offer these forms for free, they differ in quality from one state to the next. Few state websites provide guidance to assist in filling out the form. Attorneys typically do not use the sample forms provided by states. Beyond samples offered on state websites, most online free forms vary in quality and usability, or aren’t truly free.

Many claim to carry no cost, but charge a fee to download the documents or require a subscription. Additionally, it can be difficult to find the right form and fill it out correctly.

Another question parents often ask is whether doctors and hospitals provide healthcare power of attorney or HIPAA forms. This is a great question. You have probably filled out many HIPAA forms at various doctors’ offices. Those forms usually provide release of health information for that office or hospital system only. They provide parents no rights to a child’s personal health information anywhere else.

Additionally, they provide no help if a child becomes incapacitated and cannot sign a HIPAA release at the time they need care. Both a healthcare power of attorney form and universal HIPAA release should be prepared ahead of time.

3. What state do I need these documents for?

This is another excellent question and one parents preparing legal forms for their children commonly ask. If you live in one state and your child attends college in another, one form is usually sufficient. This is because a power of attorney form validly executed under the laws in the state in which it is signed will generally be honored in other states.

However, our document package allows you to create as many state specific versions as you need. You just create a set for the state in your home state, save and download it. Then, go back in to the program and create a second set of legal documents for the state where your child attends college. Since most states are comfortable seeing their own version, it can be expedient to have multiple state-specific forms on hand.

The benefit to taking time to create two or more sets of forms is the peace of mind it provides that whether your child is home for summer or away at school, he or she will have the proper documents in place.

After creating the forms and having your child sign them, it is wise for both you and your child to keep physical and digital copies on hand.

4. Doesn’t my family already have the right to make decisions?

By this point in the post, you probably already know the answer to this question. While it might seem unnecessary to have power of attorney documents prepared for young adult children due to next of kin laws, even these vary from one state to another.

Some states allow next of kin to make health care decisions and sometimes it can work out well. However, these rules are not perfect. It is not always clear who is authorized to make decisions.

While some states allow a close relative or friend to access information and make decisions, others don’t. First, surrogate laws can create confusion and conflict because it’s not always clear who the next of kin (or close relative) is.

Each of the following questions create different scenarios in various states.

  • What if more than one person is equally related to a child?
  • Which parent makes the decisions?
  • What if parents are divorced?
  • Do equally-related family have to agree or does majority rule?

In the absence of a properly-executed power of attorney form, these questions can create delays and confusion, which only make dealing with the pressing situation prompting them more difficult.

Additionally, surrogate laws often limit next of kin to certain specific decisions, such as whether to withhold or withdraw life support. Broad powers over health care are not typically included, creating more challenges.

Finally, even states with favorable surrogate laws are powerless if a child becomes incapacitated in a different state, such as while traveling on vacation. In that event, you and your child will be subject to the specific laws in the state where your child is injured.

Powers of attorney clarify who gets information and makes decisions, regardless of where a child is located when an emergency occurs.

5. What do I do with these documents once they are signed?

After creating and having your child sign the POA forms, keep the originals in a safe place with other important documents. You should also scan and save them so they are readily available to email to a healthcare provider or financial institution in an emergency.

Get Your POA Package Today

Ready to get your Young Adult POA Package? Mama Bear Legal Forms provides law firm quality, state-specific documents that are easy to create, simple to download and incredibly affordable.

All three of the forms we offer in our Young Adult Package are legally valid in all states and include guidance on how to complete them. 

It only takes ten minutes to create the three documents a child needs when turning 18. Get yours now.