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

Power of Attorney document and gavel

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 and Wisconsin), 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 the 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; they can be limited or all-inclusive, 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 health 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, and review medical records with the child’s doctor. This form also indicates whether they wish to be an organ donor and their intent regarding life-sustaining medical treatment.

Completing the Forms

Follow the links to find the standard powers of attorney for health care commonly used in Illinois (here) and Wisconsin (here) and property/finance (Illinois’ can be viewed here and Wisconsin’s can be viewed here).

  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.
    b. The Illinois power of attorney for financial/property requires two witnesses and must be notarized (Wisconsin also requires notarization).
    c. The Illinois power of attorney for health care requires one witness (Wisconsin requires two).
  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 or Wisconsin 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.


This article contains general information that is not suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be constructed as personalized investment advice. Reading or utilizing this information does not create an advisory relationship. An advisory relationship can be established only after the following two events have been completed (1) our thorough review with you of all the relevant facts pertaining to a potential engagement; and (2) the execution of a Client Advisory Agreement. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed in this article will come to pass.

Strategic Wealth Partners (‘SWP’) is an SEC registered investment advisor with its principal place of business in the State of Illinois. The brochure is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory services, views on the market, and investment philosophy. Any subsequent, direct communication by SWP with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For information pertaining to the registration status of SWP, please contact SWP or refer to the Investment Advisor Public Disclosure website (http://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov).

For additional information about SWP, including fees and services, send for our disclosure brochure and Client Relationship Summary as set forth on Form ADV from SWP using the contact information herein. Please read the disclosure brochure carefully before you invest or send money (http://www.stratwealth.com/disclosure-statement).

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