When developing an estate plan, people often dwell more on the allocation of their financial assets and think less about how they may have to finance costly medical procedures and even long-term care in their golden years.
But current medical issues as well as chronic conditions often get worse the older we get. Diseases and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or hypertension can contribute to comorbidity, stroke, heart attacks or disability later on. For elderly residents in Florida and elsewhere, planning for the future must also include serious healthcare decisions that they or a loved one may have to make.
Types of advance directives in Florida
An advance directive is a written or oral statement that a person may make that expresses their wishes regarding medical or end-of-life decisions, or designations for anatomical donations. Three common directives are:
- A living will, which is a statement of the type of medical care the individual would like should they become incapacitated.
- A health care surrogate designation, which is a document naming another person to be the individual’s representative who will make medical decision in the event they are unable to make them.
- An anatomical donation, which states the individual’s wish to donate an organ, tissue or other part of the body to persons in need.
Power of attorney for healthcare
A POA for healthcare is a legal document that is similar a health care surrogate, as it may designate another person to perform specific actions on your behalf. If the POA for healthcare is made durable, however, the surrogate may make decisions about treatment options on your behalf, and in addition will have a duty to oversee the financial costs of the individual’s healthcare.
Where a living will spells out your preferences for treatments and the kind of care you do or do not agree to, a POA for healthcare entrusts the surrogate with responsibilities to ensure that your wishes are honored. They will have access to your medical records and may grant permission for others to see them. They may make decisions regarding choice of caregiver or facility and the granting or withholding of surgery, tests or medications.
Choosing a spouse, family member or close friend to be your advocate when it comes to your care, the choice of medications, or end-of-life decisions should you become incapacitated, is arguably the most important part of your estate planning.