Equine Law: Power of Attorney for the College Rider

Kjirsten Lee, HN’s equine law columnist, details why a Power of Attorney is a critical consideration for parents of college-bound riders.

Flickr/Five Furlongs/CC

Flickr/Five Furlongs/CC

It seems like high school graduation parties were just last week, and now teenagers around the country are packing their cars (and trucks and horse trailers) to head off to college! When parents and teenagers think about preparing for college, legal documents tend not to be on their to-do list — but they should.

What is a Power of Attorney? A Power of Attorney is a legal document authorizing a parent, in this case, to act on their adult child’s behalf to make financial decisions that are in the child’s best interest.

Why should you have one? College students often leave their hometown and only return for holidays and breaks. A parent having a Power of Attorney allows the parent to sign documents on the child’s behalf, such as health insurance documents. The Power of Attorney will also give the parent access to the child’s financial accounts so that the parent can help if needed.

What about if the child is injured? Here’s an interesting and potentially little-known fact: once a child turns 18, their parents no longer have automatic access to their health care information. This includes discussing treatment plans or even making urgent decisions regarding care. Parents and children can prevent this hard situation by having a health care proxy, allowing the parent to make these important decisions on the child’s behalf if necessary. Another good document is a living will. This will outline a child’s wishes regarding life-extending treatment and other intentions, such as organ donation.

These documents are particularly important for parents of equestrian students. As we all know, horseback riding comes with a multitude of risks. If a child falls off during a lesson or a competition while at school and has to go to the hospital, the hospital and even the school might not be able to talk to the parents about what happened or any diagnosis.

Talking about equestrian team tryouts and dorm room decoration is a more pleasant discussion, but the talk about legal documents is necessary. It’s important to be prepared before something happens so that as parents, you can take action instead of having to sit on the fence.

For more of Kjirsten’s articles on equine law, click the #EQUINE LAW hashtag at the top of this page, or click here to open a list.

Kjirsten Lee, J.D., is an equine attorney with rb LEGAL, LLC, in Golden Valley, MN. She has written on topics such as the Horse Protection Act and use of drugs in racehorses, as well as general legal issues that horse people may encounter. You can follow her on Twitter at @KMLee_Esq. Kjirsten and her OTTB, Gobain, compete in dressage and eventing.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by reading and/or commenting on this post. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

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