Financial Fact or Fiction: Young Adults and Parental Access to Health Information
As a parent, you can handle all of your child’s health care affairs once they turn 18 without any special documentation.
In Illinois, once an individual reaches 18, she is considered an adult in the eyes of the law (a scary thought for some!). Technically, a young adult’s physician is not authorized to share information with a parent without the child’s permission. More than one of my friends with college-aged children has expressed disbelief when the university health center refused to share information with them. To alleviate this issue, everyone over the age of 18 should execute a health care power of attorney document. In the document, the principal (the person who is 18 or older) designates someone to be her representative/agent, in the event the principal is unable to, or does not want to, make or communicate decisions about her health care. That document should then be shared with the principal’s physician, as well as the named representatives/agents.
What happens if there is an emergency and your young adult (or for that matter anyone over the age of 18) has not executed a health care power of attorney? The physician and other health care providers will ask a family member, friend, or guardian to make decisions. In Illinois, a law directs which of these individuals, referred to as a surrogate, will be consulted, and in what order. In the case of an unmarried competent young adult, a parent would be the first to be consulted.
Convinced that your young adult child needs a health care power of attorney? Contact an estate planning attorney or visit the state of Illinois website to download the statutory form.