THE BEST GIFT FOR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES AND COLLEGE STUDENTS: DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEYS
Do you have kids heading off to college or a child over 18? Danielle recently sat down with WJBK to discuss the importance of having a durable power of attorney.
WJBK: We’ve got a lot on our minds during graduation season, don’t we, parents? And I will add one more thing to your list of things to think about. Parents with kids heading to college could consider a durable power of attorney. Attorney Danielle Mayoras joins us today to discuss why it’s so important. And Danielle, is this for any child who turns 18—and not necessarily just for those students going to college?
Danielle: Absolutely. Every child, once they turn 18, our rights as parents; we can’t do the same things we could do when they were under 18.
WJBK: So to make it simple, if your child goes to the doctor, let’s say, and there’s an issue, as parents, you have no right to that medical information or any decision-making rights, right?
Danielle: That’s true. So you go to the doctor, and you’re used to being able to talk to your doctor about your children—as soon as they turn 18, that all changes. And then the doctor says, sorry, we can’t talk to you anymore because your child’s an adult. And if you do things right, you can say, but wait a minute, I have a power of attorney so that I can talk to you, and I have the right to make my child’s medical decisions.
WJBK: And when would this be? Can you give us an instance where this would be useful?
Danielle: There are so many instances. I have three kids in college, and there have been times when I’ve wanted to speak to the college or doctors, and I’m told they won’t be able to talk to me. But with the medical power of attorney, if it has proper provisions, I can communicate on my child’s behalf.
WJBK: And this isn’t an effort to helicopter or be intrusive in any way or disrespect anyone’s medical privacy?
Danielle: No. I mean, God forbid if your child is on campus and there is a car accident, something happens; you obviously want to be able to communicate with hospitals and doctors and assist your child in an emergency. And I know my kids, even though they are 18 and over, still rely on mom and dad sometimes to help them do things, right?
WJBK: Absolutely, yes. So in that scenario, your kid’s in a car accident and sitting in the hospital, you call and say, tell me everything, but the hospital won’t be able to tell you anything because that privacy is protected. Okay. So what is this process? We did it for our college kids; it’s a legal document from a lawyer and a signature. Is it that simple?
Danielle: Well, that’s a simple way to understand it. Yes. So you want to have your 18-year-old go to an estate planning attorney. The attorney will prepare the documents for medical and financial power of attorney, which must be witnessed and notarized. And something essential to understand for parents with kids going to college, certain provisions need to be in the power of attorney that are different than when a person is older and not in a college situation.
WJBK: Okay, got it. All right. And this is something because I know people at home might be thinking, can I print this up online? Can we make our own durable power of attorney? Does that work?
Danielle: It depends. That’s the answer. So do I recommend that? No. I recommend working with an estate planning attorney specializing in this legal area. Because remember, if there is that emergency and you don’t have the provisions in the document you need, then the document doesn’t do you any good.
WJBK: Yes, that makes sense. Is there a website if you want to jump on and connect with an estate planning attorney or others?
Danielle: Yes, it’s brmmlaw.com
WJBK: Thank you for coming in. It’s these little details that, if it weren’t for this conversation, we might not know about because it’s easy to get lost and all the other stuff that we are thinking about.
Danielle: Thank you for having me.