Do I Need a Health Care Surrogate?

There are a number of documents that make up a good estate plan. One of them is a Health Care Surrogate.

What is a Health Care Surrogate? You can think of a Health Care Surrogate as a power of attorney but restricted to health care issues.

For example, if you're incapacitated and a doctor needs your consent to give you a medication or perform a procedure, who can provide consent? Generally, they might rely upon a spouse to do that. But if you don't have a spouse, what's going to happen? Anyone who is not your spouse, even a long-time partner, has no authority over you in this situation, and the doctor is not going to accept their instructions. If it's something serious, you will need to have a guardian appointed to make those decisions for you, which is time-consuming and expensive!

Keep in mind that this is not only for your benefit, but it's also for the benefit of the doctor and the hospital. They want to have a secure feeling that if they are giving you a drug or performing a procedure, someone has authorized that decision. That is where the Health Care Surrogate really comes in handy because, more often than not, when something is needed medically, it's usually an emergency, and you won't have time to get one prepared, especially if the patient is unconscious and can’t sign.

Also, in the situation described above, if you are not married, but you have a significant other, it can become an issue if they want to come visit you. If they are not authorized to see you without your consent, and they are not a relative, they could be prohibited from seeing you. As we have seen during the ongoing COVID pandemic, it is even difficult for relatives to see somebody in the hospital, so you should have a Health Care Surrogate in place if you are unmarried life partners.

On a final note, keep in mind that Health Care Surrogates are statutorily created in each state. Therefore, you want to make sure that your Health Care Surrogate form complies with Florida law. If you've come from another state and have not updated your documents, it may be an issue.

For new or updated Health Care Surrogates in Florida, you can come to The Dellutri Law Group, PA. I, Attorney Mark Martella, and other legal professionals at our firm would be happy to help you however we can. Contact us online now for more information.