A medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney are essential to any estate plan, although not considered by most adults until nearing retirement, but why are these documents also important for young adults? Once children turn eighteen, parents no longer have the authority to make health care or legal decisions for their children even if they are still footing the bills-college tuition, insurance, and the list goes on. Losing this authority means that if your child becomes disabled in an accident, you may need to seek court approval to act on your child’s behalf.

Imagine your son or daughter suffering serious injuries from a car accident while off at college in a distant city, being rushed to the emergency room, and doctors refusing to discuss his or her condition with you due to privacy concerns-easily a parent’s worst nightmare. Luckily, there are steps that all parents and children should take to ensure that your child is taken care of in a time of need.

Before escaping off to college or venturing into the next chapter of life, have your child sign a medical power of attorney to avoid all concerns. This document allows a specified person to make medical decisions on your behalf and gives that agent access to your medical records. Additionally, a durable power of attorney allows a specified person to act as an agent on your behalf in various financial and legal matters. When drafting these two documents, your child must decide whether to make the power of attorney effective immediately or effective upon disability, also known as a springing power. Oftentimes, experts recommend making the documents effective immediately because the latter normally requires a professional opinion to determine a disability-after all, you should fully trust who you are appointing. Further, naming a trusted alternate agent in the documents will guarantee that, in the event your choice agent cannot serve or is unable to, your child’s best interests are still fulfilled. Ultimately, a medical power of attorney and a durable power of attorney for your child will help alleviate some worry for the future ahead.