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Why college kids need a power of attorney

As parents, many of us are accustomed to taking care of all of the needs that our children have, from the time that they are infants. When kids begin to transition into adulthood, it can be difficult for Tennessee parents to let go of those duties. We want to continue looking after their needs, and assume that we will be there to care for them if a serious medical condition should arise. While this assumption is a normal extension of the parenting role, it is important to understand that directing the course of a child's medical care is not a guarantee unless a properly drafted power of attorney document is in place.

This is especially important for college kids, who will be heading out into the world and moving into adulthood at school, often far from home. If a serious illness or injury were to take place, the course of a student's medical care could become an issue. Technically, most college students are legal adults and have the right to direct their own health care. In the event of incapacitation, medical professionals will need documentation of the party that has been designated to fill that role.

When a child is preparing to head off to college, parents should take the time to sit down and discuss this issue. It is important to have the proper power of attorney documents in place prior to the beginning of school, and to have those documents easily accessible for school administrators. This gives both the parent and child the peace of mind that a serious incident will be handled with the same level of care that a child has become accustomed to within the home.

When tragedy strikes, family strife often follows. This is exemplified in the recent passing of the daughter of musicians Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, who was in a coma for many months prior to her death. During that time, her surviving family members fought bitterly over her medical care. Had she had the proper power of attorney documents in place, those entrusted with her care could have made decisions without the strife and stress that defined her final months. This is an estate planning need that no Tennessee parent wants to consider, but one that should be part of the process of preparing for college, nonetheless.

Source:, "What Estate Planning Lessons can I Learn from Whitney Houston's Daughter?", Aug. 12, 2015

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