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What’s the Difference Between Health Care Surrogates and Power of Attorney?

When it comes to estate planning, it’s highly recommended that you consider potential worst-case medical scenarios by adding stipulations outlining what should happen if you were to be incapacitated or put on life support. Common terms you might have heard in relation to these scenarios include “health care surrogate” and “power of attorney.” But what exactly does each of these terms mean — and how are they different from one another?

You may grant health care power of attorney to someone who you would like to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. In this legal document, you specify exactly when the person takes control and what types of decisions he or she is allowed to make. Additionally, you may list the types of medical intervention you would like and in which circumstances you would allow them.

Medical power of attorney could be supplemented with documents such as living wills, which outline the specific conditions in which you would like life-saving measures to cease, and advance medical directives, which clarify exactly what course of action to take in certain medical situations. The person with medical power of attorney serves as your liaison with doctors to ensure your wishes are met during treatment.

A health care surrogate, meanwhile, is appointed by a doctor or nurse if it is determined you are unable to make medical decisions yourself. This person will most likely be a close friend or relative, with your spouse typically being the first person to whom this responsibility would be granted. Health care surrogates are chosen in the absence of estate planning documents outlining your wishes in these circumstances.

To learn more about power of attorney and health care surrogates, contact the trusted Florida estate planning attorneys at the Charles Law Offices. 

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