As parents, you may not realize that once your child turns 18 years-old, federal and state law restrict your ability to access your child’s healthcare records and to make healthcare and financial decisions on your child’s behalf. This becomes problematic if your adult child were ever to become incapacitated, and unable to make those decisions for him or herself. This issue can be avoided if your child executes financial and healthcare powers of attorney.

Generally speaking, a power of attorney is a document that allows you, as principal, to appoint an agent or agents to act on your behalf in connection with matters identified in the document in the event you become incapacitated. These documents relate to financial and healthcare matters.

One of the greatest benefits of a power of attorney is that it allows the agent to act quickly in an emergency. If your adult child becomes incapacitated and does not have a power of attorney naming you as the agent, then a guardianship may be necessary. In a guardianship proceeding, the court appoints a guardian to make the healthcare and financial decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual. Guardianship proceedings take time and can be expensive. Having your college student sign a power of attorney for healthcare and finances is a simple way to prepare for an emergency.

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