Powers of Attorney and Your Child with Special Needs

Powers of Attorney and Your Child with Special Needs

Powers of attorney are critical to have when you have an older child with special needs. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you likely have grown accustomed to making medical, educational, and legal decisions on behalf of your child as a minor. When your child turns 18 and becomes a legal adult, your legal authority ends as your child’s parent. However, when your adult child has special needs, they may still need significant assistance in making these types of decisions or may be unable to make them altogether. Whatever your family’s situation may be, Rubin Law can assist you in determining whether powers of attorney are right for you and your family.

Powers of Attorney in General

Powers of attorney are legal documents that give a person the legal authority to make specified decisions or take certain actions on behalf of another. A parent can use a power of attorney to help an adult child with special needs make important decisions if they need assistance. However, there also may be a point at which an adult child with special needs becomes incapacitated. In that instance, a power of attorney allows the parent to make important decisions on the adult child’s behalf.

The power of attorney document outlines the decisions the person designated in the document is authorized to make for the adult with special needs. The document also specifies under what conditions they may make those decisions. Different types of powers of attorney exist. For example, a healthcare power of attorney deals with medical decisions. The Illinois Power of Attorney Act covers financial decisions.

Some agencies also have separate power of attorney forms to authorize others to make decisions related to benefits through those agencies. For instance, the Social Security Administration has its own power of attorney or Appointment of Representative form. Likewise, there is a separate power of attorney for dealing with the Illinois Department of Human Services regarding Medicaid.

Most importantly, an adult with special needs must have the legal capacity to sign any power of attorney document. In other words, the adult must understand the power of attorney document and its effects and be able to make decisions for themselves. An adult cannot sign a power of attorney after they already have become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their behalf.

In addition to understanding what a power of attorney is and how it works, the adult must understand what subject matters the document covers, that a power of attorney can be limited or broad and will remain in effect until it is revoked or they become incapacitated. The adult also must understand that they can revoke a power of attorney at any time, so long as they have the capacity to do so.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Signing a healthcare power of attorney allows adults with special needs to appoint their parents as agents to make certain healthcare and medical decisions. Some of these decisions might include:

  • Whether the person should receive a certain type of medical care or treatment;
  • Whether the person should be admitted to or discharged from the hospital;
  • End-of-life decisions;
  • Authorizations for autopsies or donations to medical research.

Adults with special needs can give their parents the legal authority to make medical decisions only in certain situations or to make all their medical decisions. The Illinois legislature recently made changes to the Illinois Power of Attorney Act, 755 ILCS 45/4-1, which became effective on January 1, 2023. This section contains a short statutory healthcare power of attorney form that families can use.

Financial Powers of Attorney

The Illinois Power of Attorney Act, 755 ILCS 45/3-1, prescribes a short statutory form for financial powers of attorney. While the form can be modified to include any powers that families wish to include, the short form authorizes parents to take certain financial actions on behalf of their adult child with special needs, including banking transactions and matters related to taxes.

Contact Us Today to Learn More About Our Legal Services

Rubin Law is the only Illinois law firm to dedicate itself exclusively to providing compassionate legal services for children and adults with special needs. We offer unique legal and future planning techniques to meet your family’s individual needs.

Call us today at 866-TO-RUBIN or email us at email@rubinlaw.com to learn more about the services we can offer you and your family.