As a reminder, your college-bound children should have a durable power of attorney and designation of patient advocate in place before they head off to school this fall. In general, anyone over the age of 18 should have these documents prepared. These documents allow your child to authorize another individual to act on his or her behalf in certain situations. Contrary to what most believe, parents do not have any authority to act on behalf of their adult children (age 18 and older) simply because they are “parents” without such documents in place.
A durable power of attorney deals with business and financial matters. This document allows the agent named to act on behalf of the college student when necessary, and without the college student needing to be present to act on his or her own behalf. For example,
• It allows an agent, such as one’s parents, to handle banking matters for the student while they are away from home.
• It allows an agent, such as one’s parents, to handle tuition payments and rental agreements, etc. for the student.
• It allows an agent to sign legal documents on behalf of the student while they are away from home.
• In the unfortunate event of an unexpected disability, it allows an agent to handle all of the student’s business and financial affairs, including school affairs, while they are unable to do so.
A designation of patient advocate deals with health care matters. This document permits an individual to name one or more individuals (called patient advocates) to make care, custody, and medical and/or mental health decisions for the individual, but only when he or she can no longer make those decisions on his or her own (as certified by two physicians), and also permits an individual to authorize the withholding or withdrawal of life support systems, and authorize or refuse organ donation in the event of death. The main reason why a college student should have a designation of patient advocate is because:
• Accidents happen. If for any reason, the student is unable to make medical or mental health care treatment decisions for him or herself, the student’s designated patient advocate can do so according to the student’s predetermined wishes.
If you have a child heading off to college this fall, please educate them on the importance of having a durable power of attorney and designation of patient advocate in place. If you have questions or would like to speak to someone about preparing these documents, please contact Melisa M. W. Mysliwiec. Melisa can be reached at 616-301-0800 or 800-748-0436, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.