Powers of Attorney: Why Does an Adult Child Need One?

Powers of Attorney - Mother Daughter Paperwork

Powers of Attorney: Why Does an Adult Child Need One?

What is a Power of Attorney?

Did you know that once a child turns eighteen (in Illinois) a parent’s legal rights cease? Upon a child’s eighteenth birthday parents are no longer their legal representatives. The parents do not have the ability to go to the bank for them, talk to their doctors or even talk to school about their status.

A power of attorney gives one or more people the power to act on someone’s behalf; they are called an “agent.” There are two basic types of powers – health care and property (or financial). Powers of attorney can take many forms; it can be limited or allinclusive, temporary or permanent, immediate or contingent upon the occurrence of a future event. A power of attorney can be changed or revoked at any time.

Types of Powers of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a property and financial power that allows an individual to designate a person to handle general affairs such as banking, investments, or financial matters with a college. This power can be effective immediately or upon incapacitation, illness or leaving the country.

A heath care power of attorney authorizes an individual to make health care decisions for another individual. Under the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your adult child’s health records are between him and his doctor. A health care power of attorney allows the agent to discuss the child’s condition, make medical decisions, as well as review medical records with the child’s doctor. This form also indicates whether they wish to be an organ donor and their intent regarding lifesustaining medical treatment.

Completing the Forms

Follow the links to find the standard powers of attorney for health care and property/finance commonly used in Illinois.

  1. Think carefully about the person(s) you choose to be your agent(s). It should be someone who:
    a. will understand what you want
    b. do as you ask
    c. lives close or travels with you
    d. you trust with your life
    e. will handle conflicting opinions
  2. Think about what guidance you want to give your agent. Then talk about your decisions.
  3. Fill out the forms and follow the instructions:
    a. Complete each form initialing and signing where indicated. Please use the samples (health care, property/finance) to guide you through the documents.
    b. The power of attorney for financial/property requires two witnesses and must be notarized.
    c. The power of attorney for health care requires one witness.
  4. Now what?
    a. Give a copy of the executed form to your agent(s), your health care professional(s) and SWP.
    b. Keep a copy of your health care power of attorney easily accessible from any location. There are apps you can download to store documents on your mobile phone or tablet.

College Bound Teens

If your child is going off to college, protect their health and finances by having them execute the proper power(s) of attorney – a simple form may help you and your child when you need it most. If your teen is attending college out of state, please be aware that the Illinois forms should be sufficient if executed properly but each state has its own requirements regarding powers of attorney.

Powers of attorney are one of the building blocks of a basic estate plan.  An adult child should also consider executing a will. Please contact us or your estate planning attorney if you’d like to discuss in more detail.

Disclosure: While this information is about legal issues, it should not be construed as legal advice or legal representation. Because of the rapidly changing nature of the law and our reliance upon outside sources, we make no warranty or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of information contained herein. We assume no responsibility for any information, advice or services provided.

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