Are Your Children Over 18 – But Still Dependents? 5 Legal Documents to Protect Your Adult Child

  • Illinois Probate Law
18th Birthday Cake: Are Your Children Over 18 - But Still Dependents? 5 Legal Documents to Protect Your Adult Child | Mario Godoy | Lombard Estate Planning Lawyer

While age 18 is the legal age of adulthood in most states including Illinois, many children remain dependents until they are out of school and living on their own. Since 2009, Illinois parents can keep their unmarried children on their health insurance plans until they reach age 26, or age 30 if they are military veterans. Many children attend college and aren’t working or financially independent until their early or mid-20s. As any parent who’s tried to obtain their child’s college transcript records knows that once your child turns 18 they have legal rights. There are legal documents to protect your adult child while also respecting their right’s in case of a medical or legal emergency.

5 Legal Documents to Protect Your Adult Child

1. Health Care of Attorney
A medical power of attorney allows your child to name a parent as their agent to make health care decisions if they are unable to make and communicate decisions at a later date, including withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures. The Health Care POA also allows the agent to choose whether to donate organs and to make burial arrangements.

2. Living Will
College-aged adult children may travel extensively, attend frequent parties and have a lifestyle that worries their parents. Living trusts are commonly used to plan for the management of assets after someone’s incapacitation or passing. A living will protects your adult child’s assets in case your child becomes ill or incapacitated.

3. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney lasts indefinitely. In most cases, a durable power of attorney (DPOA) is used to allow the designated person – such as a parent – to handle affairs in a specific area of a person’s life, such as in financial or health matters if you become incapacitated. 

4. FERPA Release
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. When your child turns 18 these rights are transferred to the student themselves. To protect your adult child’s privacy, the law generally requires schools to ask for written FERPA release before disclosing personally identifiable information.

5. HIPAA Authorization
A signed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization by your adult child naming you as an authorized party gives you the ability to see your child’s medical records and receive information from healthcare practitioners about your over-18 child’s health status, progress, and treatment in the event they are unconscious or incapacitated.

As your young adult child transitions to full adulthood and independence, you can continue to protect their best interests and look out for their welfare in case of an emergency. Part of maturing is teaching your adult child how to plan for their future, and protect themselves from unpleasant realities. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you on how to create legal documents that will protect your adult child in the future.

Protecting your family and providing peace of mind to your family members can be achieved with expert guidance from the estate planning attorneys at  Estate & Probate Legal Group in Illinois today at 630-800-0112.