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Do you have a health care directive? A health care directive is as important, or maybe more, as a will or assigning a power of attorney. Both of these instruments direct assets and financial decision making. A health care directive, or living will, directs health care decisions when you are not able to communicate or make these decisions yourself. Adults have the right to control their own medical care by consenting to or refusing medical treatment.1 Putting your wishes and thoughts in writing takes away the burden of difficult decision making and even regrettable choices, from our family members, health care providers, friends, or strangers. Some of us may have gone through this exercise through a clinic when placing a parent in long term care or dealing with a terminal illness. However, adults of all ages are at risk as a result of an injury or illness. Nearly 44 percent of people receiving long term care services are adults between 18 and 64. At age 35, one has a 50/50 chance of being unable to work more than three months due to a disability before turning 652. The statistics go on and on to show that disabilities are not elderly exclusive.

A health care directive does not require an attorney, and it can be changed or revoked as long as you have the capacity. The University of Minnesota Extension Service's website offers a wealth of information on this topic, and other related issues. This site also has The Minnesota Health Care Directive form; for your convenience, we have posted a copy of this form on our website.

The laws are different in each state, so you will need to check on your state's requirements if you live outside Minnesota. Be proactive and in control of your own health care, now and in the future.

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