Protecting Your Children at College

As parents are getting ready to send their adult children off on their next adventures in life, there are a few legal documents parents should consider completing to keep their children prepared for the future.  

Once a child is over the age of eighteen, they are legally considered an adult and parents no longer have legal authority over the child’s medical or financial affairs.  Having these documents handy can help relieve some of the stress that goes along with a child leaving the home.  These documents give parents the opportunity to speak to creditors, insurance agents, doctors, or any other medical or financial institute on behalf of the adult child.  Having these documents does not mean that the child cannot speak on their own behalf to medical or financial professionals; it simply gives the parent the option to speak on their child’s behalf if they wish.  When thinking about creating these documents for your adult child, consider what each document entails.   


Health Care Proxy

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that allows the adult child to name a person to be in charge of making health care decisions on their behalf if they are ever unable to do so for themselves.   


Having a Health Care Proxy is extremely beneficial for an adult child and their parents.  If anything was to ever happen to the adult child while away at school, for example, the Health Care Proxy document would give the Parent or Guardian the legal ability to make the medical decisions for the child in the event that the child is mentally incapacitated.  The benefit of a Health Care Proxy document goes beyond the college years as well.  Until the adult child has another adult in their life that they trust, a Health Care Proxy should be completed naming the Parents as the Proxy.     

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows the adult child to name a person to be in charge of their financial affairs should they be unable to do so for themselves.  Along with college usually come student loans.  A power of attorney would give the parent, for example, the ability to speak with the Bursar’s office at the child’s college and with the financial institute that is handling the student loan.  This can relieve a lot of stress on the student as well as the parents who may be financing the child’s education, by being able to monitor the amount of the loan as well as payments.  In addition, the benefit of the Power of Attorney goes beyond the college years. 

There are many different types of Power of Attorney’s that can be completed including a full or general power of attorney which gives the parent the complete right to conduct business on the adult child’s behalf.  There is also a limited power of attorney which can be tailored to whatever the child and parent decide.  An example would be that the parent can speak to the Bursar’s office about their student loans but is unable to have access to their bank account.  Finally, a durable power of attorney remains in effect if the child becomes incapacitated for any reason.