Hypothetical Legal Q: 18-year-old High School Senior's Parents Die...

Supposing an 18-year-old high-school senior’s parents die a few months (or even weeks) shy of her graduation date. Assume further that her grandparents, aunts and uncles are dead or live in another state.

At 18, she is no longer a minor and thus is too old to be made a ward of the state. However, she would still have to either finish High School or drop out, which seems awfully harsh to me. I mean, here’s an 18-year-old kid who is told, in essence, “Well, it looks like you’ll have to drop out of school to support yourself. Hate that for you.”

Is there some legal provision or safety net for such a person? Could she draw some sort of welfare to continue living in her parents’ home until she graduated? Any ideas?

Well,if this person were the oldest child,then probably in the event of the death of BOTH parents he/she would be the beneficiary on their life insurance which might allow them to live in the parents home(provided it is fully paid for and there is no mortgage) for a little while anyway.


Hypothetically, if there is no insurance, etc., she’s SOL.

In the real world however, her parents probably had some money in the bank which she could get hold of, a house that she could live in rent free (or sell), and a school where she could make the necessary arrangements to finish and get her diploma.

Vurtually everyone with a full-time job has some kind of life insurance through their employer, as a benefit. I do, for one year’s salary, and I don’t pay a penny for it.

Aren’t there charitable organisations that would help out?

Even the school?

As far as legality of staying in school, even in my relatively well-to-do area, there are a lot of people who are Unqualified to Be Parents. (Income does not relate to being a good person.) So there are several cases I know of of kids moving out on their own once they turn 18 (and sometimes earlier), work nights and continue in school. (I’ve also seen a lot of cases of families taking in other people’s unwanted kids and raising them in a positive environment. Mostly on an unofficial basis. Saints.)

At 18, if you are still a student you get social security until the end of the month you graduate. It probably wouldn’t be a whole lot, but probably enough to take care of basics until graduation.

I wonder how, if this person went to college, her financial aid would work out? I know many people who are truly independent, yet cant get good Federal financial aid for school until they are 22. So they wait it out, then go. Apparently thats when the dept of ed. considers you independent or something.

Hmm maybe she could get fin. aid to help finish high school…

I don’t know about the US, but in the UK we have godparents.

In the US, godparents are more like friends of the family. I don’t know any legal obligation for them to support a destitute child.

I don’t know of any either. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were willing to help, of course, but I don’t think they’d have to.

I remember once hearing about plans to make 18-year-olds in such situations who were receiving public assistance participate in workfare, si I guess they’re eligible for public assistance at least in NY.

From USLaw.com:

Who Can Get Survivors Benefits?

widow or widower at any age if she or he takes care of your child under 16 or disabled who get benefits;* unmarried children under 18 (or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full time).* Your child can get benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remained disabled. Under certain circumstances, benefits also can be paid to your stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children; or *dependent parents at 62 or older.

Looks like your hypothetical 18-year-old is okay through the end of high school. As for college, if her grades and SAT scores are reasonably good, I’d be willing to bet she’d be eligible for quite a bit of financial aid.

Do you only have godparents if you are catholic? I was under the assumption growing up (US) that they were supposed to take care of you, should the above awful occur and leave you parentless, but I am, or was Catholic, and Godparentage is a religious thing.

Godparents are only legally obligated to help out when the children are minors. Once they turn 18, they’re legally adults and nobody has to care for them.

In the US godparents have virtually no legal status at all. The will of the parents can indicate who they prefer to raise their children. These may or may not be the godparents. The courts will decide who actually gets custody, using the will as a guideline. If no one is specified at all, then the people with godparent status will have a very slight edge over others that are equally related. But if they are not closely related and a relative fights in court, they will no doubt lose.

Just remember, godparents are symbols in a religous ceremony who pledge to educate the child in the religion. No other legal status is directly assumed.