The Legal Documents Needed for Your College-Aged Child

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Published by Beth Schanou

As the school year comes to a close and summer unofficially begins, high school graduates begin the transition to a new stage in their life. For many, final preparations are underway for post-secondary education and possibly getting ready to move, at least temporarily, many hours away from home. Typically, college students remain financially dependent on their parents but as students become legal adults, the parents they have always depended on lose the legal ability to make decisions or find out basic information. In the case of a medical emergency, this could be particularly devastating.

Adults, young and old, should have at least three legal documents:

  1. Durable General Power of Attorney
  2. Power of Attorney for Health Care
  3. Will

A Durable General Power of Attorney grants the named Agent legal authority to manage one’s assets without Court involvement. The document can be written to give this power only upon incapacity. If the power of attorney is non-durable, the powers cease upon the Principal’s incapacity, which is generally desired for only limited situations.

An Agent appointed under a Power of Attorney for Health Care has the legal authority to make health care decisions for the Principal in the event the Principal is unable.

Most young adults have not accumulated many assets, but having a Will in place has its advantages. In the Will, the testator can specify to whom assets would transfer upon death and who they wish to handle the administrative duties.

Working with your young adult children to execute these documents will give some peace of mind in providing a legal right to information and the legal authority to make decisions should the need arise. It also teaches an important lesson about the necessity for proactive planning.

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