As surely as the warm weather brings vacations, barbecues and fireworks, it also brings inquiries from parents preparing to send their children off to college in the fall. Most commonly, our clients call about getting general and health care powers of attorney in place for their young adult children.
Powers of attorney are documents whereby we appoint another person to speak and act for us. If the grant of power has to do with financial, real estate or business matters, the person granting the power is called the “principal,” and the person receiving the power is called the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact.” If the grant of power has to do with health care, then in Michigan the person granting the power is called the “patient,” and the person receiving the power is called the “patient advocate.”
As a parent, you might think that you would naturally be entitled to obtain your child’s college records or make a health care decision if your child should become seriously ill (especially if you are the one writing the checks). Not so! Once your teenager reaches age 18, he or she becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. In fact, if you didn’t have general power of attorney and were to call your child’s college, you would not even be able to confirm whether your child is enrolled. Similarly, if you didn’t have health care power of attorney and your child is taken to the emergency room, you may find that you are denied access both to your child and to information about your child’s condition.
Powers of attorney are invaluable documents, and getting them in place is a very simple process. Please consider adding this important task to your summer “to do” list for your young adult children.