Empowering Your Future: The Importance of Including a Power of Attorney in Your College Checklist

This spring, in communities across America, parents and graduating high school seniors have a very special milestone to mark: the closing of one door and opening of another.

For many young adults, this involves enrolling in a college and embarking on a journey of learning away from the town they grew up or city where their family currently lives. It can mean new experiences, new foods, new friends and new habits – all at times a considerable distance away from home.

In short, #adulting.

Becoming an Adult Goes Beyond Graduation

The transition to adulthood has been traditionally associated with graduating from high school. But its true significance extends beyond this milestone. While turning 18 (or 19 in some states), may not receive the same fanfare, it marks a crucial legal shift with several important implications.

Key Legal Changes That Accompany College

Once your child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law, three important changes instantly occur.

1. Medical Decision-Making. Parents no longer possess the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their child once they reach adulthood.

Many parents are surprised to learn that doctors and medical professionals don’t just prefer to talk directly to your child; they are legally obligated to talk ONLY to your child about their medical treatment.

**Read one doctor’s real life story about not being able to get medical information after his son was hospitalized.**

Absent a medical power of attorney form granting a parent permission to discuss their child’s medical status, healthcare professionals will leave you in the dark.

2. Financial Autonomy. Parents are also no longer empowered to assist their adult children in managing financial matters. Is your child late on a tuition payment? Do they have a question about student loans? Have they signed up for a credit card and now need some help paying off the balance?

In any of these situations, if you don’t have a young adult power of attorney form completed for your adult child, you will NOT be authorized to discuss their financial situation with the school, bank or lender.

Professionals are not obligated, nor allowed in many cases, to share details of your child’s financial information or situation with you.

**Read one mom’s story about how easy it was to get her Power of Attorney documents through Mama Bear!**

Even if your child is requesting your assistance. Unless you are conferenced in to a meeting or physically present in the room with your child and they have expressed permission for you to be involved in conversations, as with medical decisions, you’ll be locked out of helping them navigate these sensitive situations.

3. Privacy and Communication. HIPAA laws prevent insurance companies from discussing a child’s account details with parents once they turn 18. Any HIPAA releases you may have signed at individual doctors’ offices do not extend beyond those individual locations.

Again, a young adult POA package including healthcare and financial power of attorney forms offer the legal authority to intervene on behalf of your adult children.

Reality Check

It’s a common assumption that being married or becoming a parent grants automatic authority to make decisions on behalf of loved ones. However, the legal reality is that parents lose the right to make medical and financial choices for their children once they reach adulthood.

Thankfully, a power of attorney resolves this concern, providing legal authority for parents to be involved in the care of their children.

A POA is Not Helicopter Parenting

At this point you might be thinking all of this sounds a little bit like helicopter parenting, or being ‘too involved’ in your child’s life. To be clear, having the legal authority to be involved in important decisions your adult child is making is different from making decisions for them.

If your child suddenly became incapacitated and hospitalized, would it be helicopter parenting to have a discussion with the doctor about the best course of treatment for your child?

If your child had questions about information they were receiving from their college financial aid office about their loan and wanted you to help them understand it, would it be ‘overparenting’ to gain the information you needed from the office to help your child?

Of course not.  

A POA simply gives parents the legal authority to come alongside their children as needed, or in times of crisis to do what any loving parent would – help them make wise decisions through it.  

Have questions about POAs? Mama Bear has answers.

Mama Bear Legal Forms’ customer service agents receive many questions from caring parents about power of attorney forms. We answer the most common questions in articles below.

Beyond the above though, there are some questions that you’ll need to know right now if you’re trying to cross getting a POA off your college checklist.

Where can I get POA forms?

Mama Bear Legal Forms offers affordable POA documents, including healthcare POA, that can be customized for your children and specific state(s) of residence and a 2nd set for free if they are going to college in another state.

Our Young Adult POA Package includes all three necessary documents for college students (Healthcare POA, Financial POA and HIPAA Release Form) for just $79. This is a significant reduction from what you’d pay an attorney for the same forms.

Can my doctor’s office give me a POA form?

This is an excellent question. The answer is no. HIPAA forms you complete at a doctor’s office typically only authorize the release of health information within that specific office or hospital system. And, a doctor’s office cannot help you obtain a POA that carries broader legal authority.

Additionally, a HIPAA form provides no assistance if an adult child becomes incapacitated and cannot sign a HIPAA release at the time they require medical care. That’s why it’s critical to have both a healthcare POA and HIPAA release in place BEFORE you need them.

Cross This Essential Item Off Your College Checklist

Are you ready to put your cares aside and celebrate your child’s achievement? Get your Young Adult POA Package from Mama Bear today. We provide law-firm quality, state-specific documents that are easy to create, simple to download and unbelievably affordable.

All three documents we offer in the Package are legally valid in every state and include guidance on how to fill them out. We also include a set of documents for a second state free and offer a free app to scan and store your documents.

It only takes ten minutes to create the three documents your graduating student needs to have everything secured before they head off to college or take that next step in life. Get yours now.

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