We do a bunch of estate planning here at the Jacobson Law Firm, and when I tell people what I do, most think wills, powers of attorney (POAs), living wills, trusts, etc., in case (in case?) they die or are incapacitated. All that is true; however, there's one document a lot of parents and grandparents don't think about until it's too late: a POA In Loco Parentis. It does seem like you're giving somebody the power to act like a crazy parent, but although as a practical matter you might do that, it actually means "in the place of a parent".
Hypothetically, your kids ask your wife if she will come watch your grandchild, Apple-Of-Her-Eye, for a week while they go on a cruise. Said grandmother - we'll call her GiGi - agrees, and heads off to Salt Cellar, Texas to entertain the little guy. You, being - I dunno, maybe an estate planning lawyer - stay home and work. Right before the newly liberated mom and hubby head off for their adventure, you get a text message from GiGi asking what happens if AOHE gets sick and she has to take him to the doctor. It is at this point that the "cobbler's children have no shoes" meme starts playing in your head and you ask yourself, "Why the heck didn't I think about doing a POA In Loco Parentis before now?!"
The POA-ILP (don't use that in front of a lawyer, I just made it up) authorizes the named person to do any act that a parent could legally do on behalf of the parent's minor child. It can cover everything from medical care to registering for school to giving consent for field trips, etc., and it gives both the parents and the POA-ILP holder a great sense of relief and security that while the parents are unavailable, somebody's able to watch out for the minor's best interests. There's no need to say why the parents are out of pocket. It can be for as long or as short a period as necessary or convenient (well, when the minor turns 18 it terminates). Caveat: it must be signed in front of a notary and should ideally have both parents' signatures on it.
By the way, everything in our hypothetical turns out okay, but remember - not doing a POA-ILP CAN result in somebody acting "like a crazy parent". Bad thing. Don't do it.
As always, the above is legal information, not legal advice, and it's based on Texas law because I'm a Texas lawyer. If you find yourself needing to have somebody take care of your tyke or tykes, please contact an experienced estate planning lawyer and discuss your needs. But don't ask him/her if he/she has ever forgotten to do one for his/her own kids...
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