What Happens When your Special Needs Child Turns 18 in Iowa?

A common scenario for children with special needs can arise when the child turns age 18 (age of majority in Iowa).  Once they are an adult, they are entitled to make their own decisions and healthcare information to others may be restricted.

To deal with this situation as they relate to medical issues, there are a couple of different options:

  • Medical power of attorney/HIPAA Release - If your child has sufficient capacity to execute documents, a medical power of attorney (MPOA) and a HIPAA release form would aid a parent in getting access to that information and being involved in health care decisions. The key question is whether the child is able to legally execute these documents.
  • Guardianship - If the child doesn't is unable to understand and knowingly consent and authorize a MPOA document, the next step would be to establish a guardianship for the child.  A guardianship is a court proceeding where you would request court approval to be appointed guardian (co-guardians) for your child to be involved and make certain decisions.  Once appointed, you will continue to have regular court filings and be limited to certain decisions.  You should consult with an Iowa probate attorney to get the guardianship properly set up and operating.
Raising a special needs child may be a lifelong commitment.  In addition to dealing with these decisions once they are an adult as discussed above, you should examine your plans for taking care of their finances and health care decisions when you are no longer able to serve in that position.


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