July 29th, 2020

Why College Students Need a Power of Attorney

For some parents a joyous time, and others many tear-filled moments – when a child leaves the nest to start college or a gap year program. Once the “dorm checklist” items have all been purchased, travel plans finalized and tuition payments calculated, one other “to do” item should include setting up a Power of Attorney for the now adult child. Read on to see why college students need a Power of Attorney and what types will be most beneficial for you and your family.

Health Care Power of Attorney

If a college student becomes ill at school and is admitted to a hospital or college infirmary, the medical facility may not release medical information about the student. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA,  protects sensitive patient information. An 18-year old has control over these records, unless otherwise assigned.

A Health Care Power of Attorney names an Agent to make decisions about medical care, when the medically afflicted cannot do so on their own. In addition to having access to medical records, the Agent can also decide what treatment and medications are given, which facility is selected for care, etc.

If your child wants to ensure that you have the capability of responding immediately in any type of medical emergency, your child should execute a Health Care Power of Attorney to ensure that you have the power to do so. Without a Health Care Power of Attorney, the medical provider may be prohibited from sharing any information with you about your child’s condition.

Financial Power of Attorney

Money management is another lesson many young adults face when leaving home for the first time. Even though they may lack their own wealth and financial assets, a Financial Power of Attorney provides access to a bank account, allowing a parent to sign checks on their behalf for payments like tuition or rent. This also empowers parents to sign tax return paperwork for an adult not able to come home during tax season.

While parents may be the primary source of financial support for the child during college, they do not have access to important information such as financial aid, student loan details, tuition bills, and grades due to privacy laws. Parents can help manage the financial matters of their adult children with a Financial Power of Attorney.

As families plan for college or gap year send-offs, they should include a Power of Attorney in their discussions and make an appointment with an estate planning attorney before this next journey begins!


Attorney R. Nicholas Nanovic is not looking forward to his toddler daughter leaving the nest. Until then, Nick, an Accredited Estate Planner®, will continue advising parents and young adults, as well as businesses, in their estate planning matters.