As you get ready to send your student off to college you are probably shopping, packing, and planning. But if you do not have powers of attorney, more commonly associated with older individuals, your list is not complete.  Once your child reaches age 18, your legal authority as parent ceases. As such, without these important legal documents it can be difficult for parents to handle medical or financial matters for their student in case of need, especially from another state. Worse yet, if the student were in an accident or seriously ill, a parent might need court authority to act on his or her behalf.

So, what documents should your student have? Here is the list: (1) Health Care Power of Attorney; (2) Mental Health Power of Attorney; (3) Living Will; (4) Financial Power of Attorney, and (5) HIPAA Release (medical release).  A health care power of attorney authorizes someone to make medical decisions if the student cannot themselves. A mental health power of attorney (unique to Arizona) allows someone to consent to psychiatric treatment, including in-patient hospital psychiatric treatment. The living will sets forth wishes regarding end-of-life medical treatment, as well as organ or tissue donation and how to dispose of remains.  The financial power of attorney authorizes someone to handle financial matters. While college students may not have significant financial assets, they may have bank accounts, credit cards and apartment leases int heir name. They may also have digital assets, including online accounts with their schools, and their social media and e-mail accounts.  Lastly, the HIPAA release allows the medical providers to discuss and share medical information regarding the patient to designated individuals at any time.  A power of attorney that is validly executed in one state will be honored in another.

I have two college-age children (22 and 20) and can attest first hand as to how these documents help. While my daughter has been in Texas at Baylor University I have used these documents to obtain copies of medical records from her pediatrician in Phoenix to allow her to register for classes in Texas, handle her auto insurance claims, review lease issues, and other incidental matters.  I cannot imagine not being able to talk with doctors or hospital staff should either of my children be in a serious accident or become ill. You should talk to your student about putting these documents on the to-do list to get ready for college. These documents, like all estate planning, handle the “what-ifs” of life.  Everyone over the age of 18 needs these documents.

We are hosting two free one-hour workshops (Saturday July 21 and Wednesday July 25) for college age students: “Adulting 101- Powers of Attorney for the College Student”.  At these workshops we will provide free medical and financial powers of attorneys to college-aged young adults (18-22).   The idea being that we will educate on what they need to have in place, as mom and/or dad are no longer the legal guardian(s).  We’ll give a brief educational explanation on powers of attorney, then the documents will be filled out, signed, and notarized at the event.  There is no cost to the recipient, though we are collecting donations for UMOM.   These events are open to the public. For all the details and to register, please go to

Our goal is to make this informative, simple and easy. Encourage your student to invite a friend! Space is limited so please register today.


–Stephanie A. Bivens, CELA, Esq.