Why You Need a Designation of Health Care Surrogate

Having a Designation of Health Care Surrogate (sometimes referred to as a “Medical Power of Attorney”) is important because if you ever become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself, this document will authorize a member of your family, or anyone you choose, to make medical decisions on your behalf. A whole host of medical conditions and accidents can render someone incapable of communicating their medical decisions in dire times. From dementia and mental illness to car accidents, strokes, and heart attacks. If you arrive at the hospital unconscious or unable to communicate, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate will permit a trusted loved one to make health care decisions on your behalf.  

What Makes a Designation of Health Care Surrogate Important?

When you experience an accident or medical emergency that renders you unconscious or unable to communicate, having someone named as your health care surrogate to make decisions on your behalf will make it easier for health care professional to treat you.  If you don’t have this document in place, the decision may fall on a relative that you would not choose to make such decisions for you.  If you are unmarried and have multiple children, the decision can become complicated because all your children will have to be consulted. This can pose headaches if the children do not agree on a medical recommendation.

Another complication arises when you have a partner to whom you are not married, as they will not be considered your legal next of kin and will not be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. In cases where the hospital cannot locate your next of kin and you have no Designation of Health Care Surrogate in place, your medical care provider will have to petition the courts to authorize medical treatment. 

How to Make Designation of Health Care Surrogate Legally Binding

For a Designation of Health Care Surrogate to be legally binding, the document must meet the legal requirements set forth by state law. Contacting an experienced estate planning attorney is a good first step.  An experienced estate planning attorney will walk you through the process and educate you on all the steps involved. The individual you eventually designate as the one to make medical decisions on your behalf is called a Healthcare Agent. This person, whether it is your spouse, adult child, or a close friend or partner, must be mentally competent.  Just like many important decisions in your life, it is also a good idea to have a back-up Agents named in the document just in case something happens to your first choice. 

If you are in need of a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, contact the team at Morgan Law Center in Lake City, Florida. Our experienced team is passionate about providing the help you need. Call us today at (386) 755-1977.