In this post, I discuss the parental power of attorney and how parents can use it to help provide for their children’s needs.
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf on matters that you specify in the document. A parental power of attorney, therefore, is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf with regard to the care of your minor children. The parties to a power of attorney are the agent—the person authorized to act for another—and the principal—the person providing the authority.
A parental power of attorney can serve as a valuable tool when you are not available to act on your child’s behalf. You may, for example, want to give such a POA to your parents if your children will be living with them for an extended period of time for whatever reason—such as a transition period during a move or an overseas deployment if you are in the military.
Parental powers of attorney can be broad—providing authority to make most parenting decisions—or narrowly tailored to fit specific circumstances. If you will be unavailable for a long period of time, you may want to provide a broad POA that allows a temporary caregiver, among other things, to enroll your children in school and sign permission slips.
On the other hand, if your children attend daycare, you may want to provide your childcare providers with a narrowly constructed POA allowing them to consent to your children’s receiving medical care.
Please note that a parental power of attorney does not sever the parent-child relationship or limit or otherwise restrict your parental rights.
Giving someone such a POA does not mean that you can no longer make parental decisions; it simply means that your agent can also make such decisions on your behalf.
Similarly, a parental power of attorney cannot be used to make another person the legal guardian of your children. A parental power of attorney is intended to be of limited or temporary effect, and you can revoke it at any time and for any reason.