This is a question you might not have contemplated until the pandemic raised concerns about health all over the United States. It’s come front and center for those parents who have a child who has either gone off to college for the first time or returned to campus for the first time since the pandemic started. No matter which of these applies to you, have you done estate palnning with this adult child before they left?
Given that it’s unknown what campus life next semester will be like, it’s a good idea to do everything you can to plan ahead and prepare. Getting the call that the school has a big spread of COVID or that your child is sick and needs to return home are real possibilities for parents in the next year, and estate planning can help to answer some very important questions during this time of uncertainty.
If you have a college age child, it may be important to create estate planning documents specifically for this purpose. If your child is away at college, you do not necessarily have the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf unless you have been specifically granted this legal authority in a power of attorney document.
A durable power of attorney document can be used when signed by your adult child stating that you are able to make care decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated as a result of covid or any other medical condition. Without these documents you do not have the authority to act even if your child just turned age 18 yesterday.
During this period of transition when your newly legal adult might still have strong ties to home and rely on you for support in these important decisions, it’s critical to think about how these documents could help you avoid difficult situations.