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Ask the Expert: Should I Consider A Health Care Directive For My Child Who Just Turned 18?

Angela DiCastri, MBA, CLU® •  November 13, 2015 | Ask the Expert, Home and Family

Each week our Northwestern Mutual experts answer your questions. This week’s question:

By Angela DiCastri, MBA, CLU®

Angela is the Director, Retirement Market, Planning and Sales. Under her leadership, the department is responsible for the growth and development of the retirement market, sales and adoption strategies, and the execution of plans that align with both the markets needs and the Company’s product development efforts.

Should I consider a health care directive for my child who just turned 18?

Yes, and I can’t stress that enough. When your child turns 18, he or she is a legal adult even if you still provide financial support. As an adult, they are afforded the same rights as everyone else meaning their health care records are now private. You have no legal right to access your adult child’s healthcare information or make medical decisions for him or her even if they are in an accident and unable to speak.

You should encourage your child to execute two documents. First is a Health Care Directive. It is a statement to health care providers that delineates the extent to which extraordinary measures should be taken to extend life if your child is incapable of making those decisions. The second is a Health Care Power of Attorney which gives another party, such as a parent, the authority to have access to medical information and to make decisions regarding the medical care of the child. In the absence of these documents, you may have to appeal to the probate court to obtain the authority to act on behalf of your child.  

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