The Importance of an Advanced Directive and Healthcare Surrogate
Why should you consider an advanced directive or nominating a healthcare surrogate, in addition to drafting your will and determining allocation of assets? While it is difficult to think of our own passing, it is much more difficult for family members when you pass, or while one is critically ill, if a healthcare surrogate has not been nominated, or an advanced directive has not been drafted. This is because family members are forced with the difficult decision of determining end-of-life treatments, which may or may not reflect the true wishes of the dying family member. Drafting these documents prior to sickness or necessity for palliative care ensures your wishes are respected and that you can live out your days comfortably and with dignity.
Personal Representatives & Estate Planning
While planning your estate, you have likely considered asset allocation and distribution of possessions and property, but you should also consider your health and who will become a personal representative of your estate. An attorney can appoint a trustee or personal representative for you. An attorney can also act as personal representative or trustee of your estate when you pass if you cannot identify a personal representative.
When a decedent passes on, if their will is registered in Hillsborough County, it is much easier to open an estate and wind up affairs. A person can also pay a small fee to keep a physical copy of their living will at a probate and estate office. Many people do so to ensure their will is safeguarded in the event of a home catastrophe, and so there is no dispute as to its authenticity. In Florida, the state legislature has discussed the importance of a living will, advance directive and health care proxy as part of a comprehensive estate plan.
Living Wills & Healthcare Surrogates
A person should consider their healthcare plan, palliative care needs (assisted living, home health nurse, etc.) and their healthcare needs (debilitating illness, chronic pain, rare disease requiring expert treatment, etc.), when drafting a living will or advanced directive. They also need to consider what they would want to happen to them in the event of grave illness or death. Many questions can be answered with a living will, such as how would someone want to be buried, what would the funeral look like and would they want to be an organ donor. If wishes change, a living will can also be amended.
A healthcare surrogate is a person nominated by the patient to make healthcare decisions on their behalf when the patient is unable to do so. An advanced directive allows a person to state their wishes for medical treatment when they cannot advocate on their own behalf in writing. For example, an advanced directive asks questions such as: does someone want to be fed intravenously, kept alive using artificial means even if they have no brain activity, and so on. A person must name a representative on their behalf when they draft an advanced directive. If a patient’s family member disagrees with a treatment method, they could challenge it in the Florida Courts, but it is unlikely to move forward because of an existing advanced directive indicating the patient’s express wishes.
Call Bubley & Bubley, P.A. Today
End-of life decision-making is already fraught with tension and difficulty, but it is important to devote some time to drafting these documents, because we cannot predict the future and our wishes are paramount. If you are ready to discuss drafting of end-of life documents, call Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today. Our Tampa estate planning attorneys can assist you and ensure your wishes are honored.