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What is a healthcare surrogate and why do I need one?

Unexpected illnesses or injuries can strike at any time.  No matter your age or health status, it is important to prepare for the possibility that you may one day be in a position where you cannot make important medical decisions on your own.  Our Tampa, Florida estate planning attorneys at Verras Law discuss the importance of designating a healthcare surrogate below.  For assistance with your comprehensive estate plan in the Tampa Bay area, contact one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.

Healthcare Advance Directives

Under Florida law, an advance directive is a written statement about your preferences for medical decisions if you become incapacitated.  Only a physician can determine if you are incapacitated.  Conditions that may lead to a declaration of incapacity include being in a coma or suffering from severe dementia.  There are several types of advance directives, with one of the most important being a healthcare surrogate designation.

What is a healthcare surrogate?

A healthcare surrogate is a person named to make crucial medical decisions for you if you are declared incapacitated.  You can designate a healthcare surrogate with a written form.  Within your designation, you can include instructions as to your desired treatment.  You can also name an alternative surrogate if the first surrogate is unwilling or unable to perform his or her duties.

Without a healthcare surrogate designation, decisions about your care will be made by your spouse, your adult child, your parent, your adult sibling, another relative, friend, or a court appointed guardian.  The individual selected by the medical facility or the court may not be who you would have chosen, and may not be aware of your wishes.

You have the power to revoke or amend your healthcare surrogate designation at any time.  Designating a healthcare surrogate is a fairly simple process under Florida law and can be completed with a one page form.  This quick estate planning step could save your loved ones from much confusion and stress, as well as provide you with peace of mind that your wishes will be honored in the unfortunate event that you become incapacitated.