If you are like most people, you are putting off making decisions about your future healthcare and your end-of-life needs. To a certain extent, this is understandable: No one expects to suddenly become mentally incapacitated, and more than likely, you’ll know when the time is coming for you to make these kinds of decisions.
But, the reality is that, when it comes to planning for your future, these are some of the most important decisions you can make to provide for your comfort and protect your family. Bad things can – and do – happen, and if they happen to you, you need to be prepared. With tens of thousands of people dying unexpectedly each year in car accidents alone, it just makes sense to have a plan in place in case something goes wrong. This is not meant to scare you, but rather to help you make the difficult acknowledgement that there are simply factors out there that are beyond your control.
What is a Healthcare Surrogate?
A healthcare surrogate is a person who you appoint to make decisions about your healthcare and medical treatment in the event that you are unable to do so. Under the federal Patient Self-Determination Act, all individuals have the right to designate a surrogate to make decisions on their behalf in healthcare facilities.
In most cases, an individual will choose their spouse, partner, adult child, or a close friend or relative to serve as their healthcare surrogate. In any case, you should discuss your desires with your chosen surrogate, and make sure that they are fully comfortable making what could very well end up being life-changing decisions on your behalf.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Appoint a Healthcare Surrogate?
While there are forms available, it generally makes sense to speak with a lawyer before appointing a healthcare surrogate. This is because an experienced family law and estate planning attorney will be able to help you:
- Fully understand your rights, options, and obligations when appointing a healthcare surrogate;
- Preserve your right to change your surrogate and make sure that your wishes are known;
- Evaluate your options regarding advance directives and other alternatives; and
- Incorporate your healthcare surrogate designation into an overall end-of-life and estate plan that protects your dignity, preserves your assets, and limits your family’s uncertainty.
Before appointing a healthcare surrogate, you will want to make sure that you are making the decision that is best for you. The information provided in this article is meant for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as personal legal advice. While appointing a healthcare surrogate may make the most sense for your personal situation, this is a decision that you should make with the help of your family, trusted friends, and legal counsel.
Discuss Your Options for Appointing a Healthcare Surrogate with an Attorney at Beller & Bustamante, P.L.
At Beller & Bustamante, P.L., we provide knowledgeable, compassionate representation and advice for estate planning and healthcare-related matters in Florida. To schedule a confidential discussion with one of our experienced attorneys, please call (904) 288-4414 or contact us online today.