Power of Attorney

Kris L. Maser

Recently, I talked about the need for high school graduates to complete their Health Care Directives upon turning age 18 to enable parents to make medical and health care decisions on their behalf. (This presumes your child will appoint you as his/her parent and not his/her BFF.) It is important to have these new adults think about adding a Power of Attorney for financial matters to their disability planning arsenal.

The Minnesota Statutory Power Of Attorney is a document that your child can sign which will enable you to access his/her financial information and manage assets. While both my sons were in college out of state, they maintained accounts in Minneapolis. Organization was not a strong suit with my kids at the time they left for college. I think they were more interested in what the world was going to be like without their helicopter mom.

At the time they met with the attorney for the Health Care Directive, we asked that they also discuss the Power of Attorney for Finances. Once completed, the Power of Attorney for finances allowed us, as parents, to transfer assets from the kid’s accounts to pay for schooling, to help them with bill payment, to access their accounts to ensure that the accounts were not overdrawn and to oversee their spending habits.

We also contacted the colleges to verify that the college would accept the Power of Attorney and if not, what documents were necessary to allow us access to their financial information from the college.

Although we, as parents, thought we had educated our kids about money management, it was a different story once they were on their own. What was taught in principal didn’t carry over into practice right away. Having access to their financial information helped us minimize their financial issues so that they could focus on their studies (and on the other issues impacting college life).

In a nutshell, disability planning is not limited to the elderly. Not one of us knows what is around the next bend in our lives and each of us should be prepared with the documents necessary to help our loved ones help us in a time of need.

The Health Care Directive and the Power of Attorney for Finances are two documents that we all hope we never have to use. BUT in the event a crisis happens they are great tools to keep the court system out of family matters.

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