If you are about to send your kids off to college, you have probably started on the list of things that you have to take care of before they are off on their own. You have probably started shopping for clothes and supplies and your kid is already worrying about who their roommate will be. Here is another thing you should do to prepare for your child to be on their own: Ask your child to sign a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy.
Be ready for an argument. Your child is about to have a taste of freedom and you are asking them to sign these papers which to them may seem like a huge invasion of that freedom and privacy.
What exactly are a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy and why are they important? A durable power of attorney allows you to legally speak and act for another individual. This is something that is usually thought to be important in taking care of an elderly parent, but it is just as important for ensuring the safety of an adult child. A healthcare proxy takes it a step further allowing doctors and hospitals to speak to you in case there is an emergency and allows you to make decisions about your child’s treatment.
These are things we, as parents, take for granted having raised our children and having had these responsibilities for our child’s whole life. At 18 years of age, your child is now an adult and the law protects their privacy. Without a healthcare proxy, if your child is hospitalized, the doctors will not be able to speak to you citing privacy concerns.
Many people are wary of signing a durable power of attorney because of the power if gives to the agent. This is a real concern, as it gives the parent the ability to seek information about grades, a right that parents normally do not have, even if they are paying the tuition.
These forms are not about spying and they are not about infringing on the new found freedom of a child going off to college. It is a real concern. Accidents can always happen. Your child may find him or herself in a bad situation and will need help. With the power of attorney and healthcare proxy, you and your child can rest assured that you can act on their behalf without restraint and you can get the help that is needed. Whether the issue is medical or legal, you want to make sure that you can legally speak for and make decisions for your child without hassle.
How can you persuade your children to sign these forms when they are absolutely sure at this age that you don’t know anything? You can start with gentle persuasion. Talk about the reasons it may be needed. They will be far from home and on their own with no one looking out for their best interests. Even if it leads to an argument, you will know that they will be protected regardless of what may happen.