Use of Powers of Attorney for Your Children Who Are Over 18

When your children go to college, they are generally at least 18 years of age. In Illinois, they are considered to be adults at that time. This means that you, as their parents, are not legally entitled to their school information which includes grades (despite the fact that you are footing the bill for the tuition). It also means that if there is a medical issue or if your child has a psychological or emotional issue, you are not entitled to know what it is. The hospital, doctors, nurses, school psychologists, etc. will not talk with you to tell you what the problem is, unless your child specifically authorizes you to do so at that time. At the time that you are needed, your child may not wish to tell you about the situation in the case of a psychological issue, an emotional issue or a drug issue. In the case of a physical infirmity, your child may not be able to tell you about it. In any event, that leaves you, as the parent, unable to give proper assistance to or for the benefit of that child.

One way to deal with this is to have your child sign a financial Power of Attorney, naming you as their agent to deal with financial matters for them or health care matters, as well. With this document, you should be able to receive their full tuition and room and board bills, reconcile their bank accounts, if needed, receive their grades to see that your money is going for good use, and most importantly, to get medical information about them, especially in the event of an accident or other medical need. It is important that the Power of Attorney contain the necessary HIPAA authorization language in the document so that you will be able to access their medical information.

There are times that the child does not feel comfortable naming you, the parent, as their agent. They are just beginning to live on their own and feel that their independence is threatened. In that event, it is important that they name someone, perhaps an older sibling or another family member to be there to offer assistance when needed.

Using a Power of Attorney for your child over 18, who is legally an adult, is one of those things that you don’t think about until the need arises and then it is too late to obtain the document that would protect your child. Don’t wait until it is too late!