Thinking about a future injury or illness isn’t pleasant, but it could give your desires legal standing, protect your best interests, and alleviate stress and confusion for your loved ones. One essential planning tool that everyone should implement is a healthcare surrogate.
What is a Health Care Surrogate?
A healthcare surrogate (also sometimes called a healthcare power of attorney) is someone who can make legal decisions on your behalf regarding your healthcare in the event that you become incapacitated. In legal terms, “incapacitated” means you are physically and/or mentally unable to manage your affairs. It’s always recommended to have a legally-appointed healthcare surrogate to manage your medical and health decisions in addition to a durable power of attorney to manage financial and related affairs.
For example, if you are seriously injured and cannot give consent for certain types of medical treatment, your healthcare surrogate would make those decisions for you. Or if you develop a mental illness that leaves you unable to make medical decisions, your healthcare surrogate will take on that responsibility.
Make a Decision ASAP!
Even if you are in great health, you just never know what could happen. You must be “of sound mind” to appoint a healthcare surrogate, and you can do so once you turn 18. You should do it now while you can!
If you don’t appoint a healthcare surrogate, someone will be appointed for you to make a decision if you become incapacitated, and it might not be someone you would trust to make a decision about your health and your future.
How to Select a Healthcare Surrogate
It’s difficult to imagine a tragedy striking, but being prepared for the worst can ensure that your wishes are carried about. Of course, it’s probably also difficult to think about how to choose someone to make important medical decisions on your behalf. Consider these points when choosing a surrogate:
- Geographical location: Consider if your surrogate would be managing a medical emergency by your side or from long-distance. If available, a local choice is often – but not always – ideal.
- Dependability: Consider your candidate’s trustworthiness. Do they tend to freeze in times of crisis? Will they respect your wishes? Will they be able to let go of personal emotions and opinions to honor your desires?
- Physical and mental ability: If your candidate is struggling with a mental or physical health issue (including advanced age), you may want to consider someone else. Do not appoint someone who has a likelihood of erratic mental behavior.
- Persistent and resilient personality: A surrogate must not be timid! They must be able to push your desires forward with resilient support as they interact with your family and medical providers.
- Readiness, willingness, and ability: This is pretty self-explanatory. Would they be able to jump in and take up the responsibility today if something happened? Ask your candidate if they are able and willing to serve.
Make a rational, not emotional choice. Many people hesitate when choosing a surrogate because they are worried about hurting feelings of friends or family members who may consider themselves the obvious choice. This is not the time to spare feelings. Choose who you think would be the best surrogate. Period. And remember that choosing the person closest to you (a spouse, for example) may not be the best choice. If your wishes contradict with their emotional desires in a healthcare situation, they might be tempted to override your wishes.
It’s wise to appoint a second healthcare surrogate in the event that your primary choice isn’t able, willing, or available to act on your behalf.
You can choose to designate a different healthcare surrogate at any time if you wish.
Equipping Your HealthCare Surrogate For Success
Remember, your surrogate is only as informed as you equip them to be. As soon as you appoint a surrogate, sit down to have a conversation with them about your medical and end-of-life wishes. If you don’t make your desires clear, how can they be expected to carry out your wishes? Allow them to ask clarifying questions, and consider recording your desires for them so that they can remember and reference in a time of crisis.
How To Make Your Choice Legally Official
Choosing a healthcare surrogate might seem difficult, but the next part is easy. All you need to do is fill out a form that puts your wishes in writing. Are you ready to fortify your future against the unexpected curveballs of life? You can’t always prevent undesirable things from happening, but you can ensure that your healthcare desires are met when you designate a healthcare surrogate. Contact an attorney today at the Baby Boomers’ Barrister! Call our St. Petersburg office at (727) 565-4250 or send a message!
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St. Petersburg, FL 33701
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Tampa, FL 33607