If you’re preparing to send a child off to college this fall, you should add two documents to your back-to-school checklist: (1) a power of attorney for health care, and (2) a durable power of attorney for finances.  Without these two documents, you may not have the authority to make health care decisions or manage finances for your child once they reach age 18.

A power of attorney for health care allows your child to name agents to make decisions on their behalf if they were unable to make those decisions.  This document is important if your child were to have a medical emergency.  Without this document, parents may not have the authority to make certain health care decisions for their child and court proceedings may be required for a parent to get the authority to make such decisions.

A durable power of attorney for finances allows your child to name agents to assist with managing their finances.  This document can be helpful to parents for tasks such as paying tuition or bills for their child or assisting their child with managing their bank account.  This document is also important in the event of an emergency if the child were to become unable, even temporarily, to manage their finances or sign legal documents.