Tampa Healthcare Power of Attorney
Americans on average are living longer, healthier lives, which is something to be celebrated. The older we get, however, the frailer and weaker our physical bodies tend to become, and the more likely we are to be afflicted with an age-related memory disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Current studies find that one in three older Americans over the age of 85 suffer from a moderate to severe memory disorder. Whether due to diminished physical or mental capacity, many people reach a point where they are no longer able to manage their own health care. Of course, people of any age could fall victim to an accident at home, on the road, in the workplace or out and about that renders them incapacitated, even if only for a brief period.
If you become unable to make decisions regarding your healthcare, who will make these decisions for you? The answer depends on what kind of advance directives you have put in place. At Strategic Counsel Law Group, our team of dedicated and compassionate Tampa estate planning attorneys will create the right set of advance directives that ensure you will be looked after properly in the event you ever become incapacitated. Call our office to get started today.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
This document appoints a person of your choosing to act as your agent in your medical affairs, much like a durable power of attorney allows a person to act as your agent in your legal and financial affairs. Privacy laws such as HIPAA prevent the release of a person’s health information without their consent. A person acting as your health care surrogate can interact with doctors and hospitals, access your medical records and receive information about your health.
A health care surrogate can provide, refuse or withdraw informed consent for surgeries or other medical procedures, including life-prolonging procedures. They can apply for public benefits on your behalf such as Medicaid or Veterans benefits to help pay for long-term care or other expensive medical services. Your surrogate could also check you into or out of a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility.
DNR, Living Will
Other advance healthcare directives you may want to include in your estate plan cover the grim subject of what to do in life-threatening medical emergencies or at the end-stage of life. A Do Not Resuscitate Order, commonly called a DNR or DNRO, is one such directive. A DNR deals specifically with the issue of whether or not you would want to be resuscitated in the event you went into cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest.
If you have designated a health care surrogate, that person can create a DNRO for you if you don’t already have one. Your surrogate could also decide to make an anatomical gift, but only if that authority is specifically granted in the health care surrogate designation.
A living will is a separate document that describes your wishes to have or not have life-prolonging measures if you are in a coma (persistent vegetative state) or have a terminal or end-stage condition.
What if I Don’t Have Healthcare Powers of Attorney in Place?
Without guidance from an official legal document, doctors and hospitals will act according to their policies and the requirements of Florida law. They may look to family members for guidance, but often family members disagree, and squabbles can break out between the patient’s spouse and adult children or among siblings. These fights can spill over into court and create heartbreaking legal battles that could have been avoided with proper planning. You could also end up under a guardianship with someone you don’t even know in control of your care, and you had no input over who that would be or what choices they would make.
Even when the decision-making falls to one person alone, such as the spouse or child, that person could be stuck making hard decisions and agonizing over the right thing to do. Providing guidance in advance to family members and physicians can ease this process for others and help ensure decisions regarding your care are made the way you would want them to be made.
Help With Healthcare Power of Attorney in Tampa
Don’t leave vital questions about your healthcare up to chance. Call Strategic Counsel Law Group at 813-286-1700 to discuss healthcare powers of attorney as part of your comprehensive Tampa estate plan.