If you are one of the countless parents sending a child to college this year, you have a lot on your mind. Packing clothes, buying dorm room accessories and learning how to do laundry are probably only a few of the items on your child’s college checklist. Odds are that signing estate planning documents is not near the top of that list, but it should be.

While you may not realize or want to admit it, your college-bound child is legally an adult. Every adult 18 years or older, including you, a minimum should have a current medical directive and durable power of attorney for health care decisions and a durable power of attorney for financial matters in place.

These documents allow your adult child to appoint someone trusted to make medical and financial decisions on his or her behalf in the event he or she is unable to do so. Whether a routine surgery is needed or something catastrophic occurs, the durable powers of attorney will ensure medical decisions are made and financial transactions are carried out seamlessly and without lengthy, expensive court proceedings. With a little planning, your college student’s immediate needs can be met if and when life gets off track.

There is never a better time to sign durable powers of attorney than right now – well before they are ever needed, well before the unexpected takes place. The peace of mind and protection these simple, yet powerful documents offer make them well worth the minimal costs incurred to create them.