Power of Attorney for Minor Children

By Kelly Mroz

A power of attorney for a minor child allows a parent to designate another adult to make decisions for his child without giving up parental or custodial rights. The power of attorney is temporary and can be given by either a parent or guardian. The adult who receives the decision-making authority is called the agent or attorney-in-fact. As a formal legal document, the power of attorney must satisfy state law in how it is written and signed.

A power of attorney for a minor child allows a parent to designate another adult to make decisions for his child without giving up parental or custodial rights. The power of attorney is temporary and can be given by either a parent or guardian. The adult who receives the decision-making authority is called the agent or attorney-in-fact. As a formal legal document, the power of attorney must satisfy state law in how it is written and signed.

Rights

When a parent establishes a power of attorney for his child, he does not give away any of his parental rights. The parent can still make decisions for the child, maintains custody and may revoke the power at any time.

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Authority

When creating a power of attorney, the parent decides which decisions to delegate to the agent. The parent can grant specific authority, such as medical treatment or school registration, or the parent can delegate general authority, giving the agent whatever decision-making power the parent would normally possess. In some states, there are rights that a parent is not permitted to designate to an agent such as consent to marriage, consent to adoption, or selling or gifting the minor's property. Because there is such a broad range of powers that can be granted, the parent should make sure the legal document clearly sets out which powers he is delegating.

Situations

Powers of attorney for a minor child are commonly used by parents during a temporary absence. Parents unavailable due to things like deployment, education, vacation, illness or employment can use powers of attorney to provide for their children's care.

Time Limits

Powers of attorney for minor children are typically valid only for a limited period of time, as set by state law. The time limit varies by state. In Utah, the document is only valid for six months; in Alaska, it is valid for 12 months. Federal law allows the power of attorney for the minor child of a deployed military member to last until the individual returns from the deployment.

Process

The process for creating a valid power of attorney varies by state. The parent generally must sign the document in the presence of a notary. The original document is given to the agent as proof of his decision-making authority. Copies are provided to relevant schools or health care providers for their records when the agent uses the document.

Revocation

A parent can revoke the power of attorney at any time. This typically requires that the parent notify the agent of the revocation in writing and that the original and any copies be destroyed, if possible. The state may have additional requirements for the revocation document.

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References

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