I’ve Been Asked To Be A Healthcare Surrogate. What Does This Mean For Me?

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Estate planning has a lot of components. This process can involve difficult conversations and decisions for an individual planning his or her estate, but difficult conversation and choices now can make the individual’s life, and the lives of his or her loved ones, easier later.

Designating a healthcare surrogate can be part of the estate planning process. A healthcare surrogate is trusted to act as a medically incapacitated person’s proxy in interactions with doctors and other healthcare providers. In other words, if you are asked to be a loved one’s healthcare surrogate, he or she is instilling trust in you to act in his or her best medical interest later if he or she cannot make decisions or voice his or her opinions.

You will have to Consult with your Loved One’s Healthcare Providers to Make Decisions on His or Her Behalf

In a nutshell, this is a healthcare surrogate’s role. When you are first named to be your loved one’s healthcare surrogate, talk to him or her about the choices he or she would make in certain healthcare situations. Do not be afraid to discuss issues related to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders and experimental treatment – these are the very issues you could find yourself facing as a healthcare surrogate, so you need to be sure that the choices you make are the choices your loved one would want you to make.

The Differences Between a Healthcare Surrogate and Having Medical Power of Attorney

If you are familiar with the concept of Power of Attorney, you might be asking yourself how a healthcare surrogate is different from having medical power of attorney. In many cases, a healthcare surrogate is designated by an incapacitated individual’s doctor because the individual does not have a legal document designating a loved one as having power of attorney. Sometimes, the term “healthcare surrogate” is used to refer to an individual who has medical power of attorney for a loved one. “Healthcare proxy” is also used to refer to this status.

A healthcare surrogate can fill in the gaps in an advance medical directive. An advance medical directive is a document outlining an individual’s wishes regarding his or her healthcare treatment, and the party with medical power of attorney is to ensure that this document is followed. When an issues arises that is not in the advance medical directive, a healthcare surrogate determines the choice the principal would make.

Work with an Experienced Tampa Estate Planning Attorney

Acting as a loved one’s healthcare surrogate is a big responsibility. If you feel you are unable to act in this capacity, talk to your loved one about choosing another individual for the job now, not when he or she is facing a health emergency. No matter how young you are or your current health state, it is never inappropriate for you to work with an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney to develop your healthcare surrogate and power of attorney plans. Contact our team at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today to schedule your initial legal consultation with us.

Resource:

americanbar.org/groups/real_property_trust_estate/resources/estate_planning/living_wills_health_care_proxies_advance_health_care_directives.html

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