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How extensive is a health care surrogate’s authority?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Estate Planning, Health Care Surrogate |

Floridians who are thinking about the future and want to be prepared for every eventuality will understand the importance of comprehensive estate planning and crafting all the necessary documents. Part of that is having contingencies in place if they become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions on their own.

Naming a health care surrogate allows a person (technically known as the principal) name another trusted person to make their health care decisions. Obviously, this is a major responsibility. When deciding who to name as the surrogate, it is imperative to understand the law and the limits of their authority.

What will the health care surrogate do when the principal is incapacitated?

The law is clear as to what rights the surrogate is granted to act on behalf of the principal after the principal has become incapacitated. Any health care decision that would otherwise be made by the principal can be made by the surrogate.

They also have the right to consult with health care professionals, give consent and make other decisions that the principal would have wanted. For example, if they need to have a feeding tube, the surrogate can approve that if they know that would be the preference of the principal. When the agent does not have specific instructions from the principal, they can assess the situation based on the best interests and decide accordingly.

The surrogate can give written consent when it is needed. That will include a do not resuscitate order. When they are required, the surrogate can apply for public benefits. If the principal needs Medicaid to pay for their care, the surrogate can move forward with the application using the principal’s personal information to do so. They can also release health care information based on maintaining and continuing health care treatments.

Knowing the law and having help is key when naming a health care surrogate

As this information shows, the power accorded to a health care surrogate is substantial. People who are in this position should be trustworthy to live up to their responsibility. Naming a health care surrogate should not be taken lightly.

To understand the extent of their powers, ensure all the documents are completed as they should be and, if necessary, to make changes, it is vital to have professional assistance. This is true with any aspect of estate planning. Calling professionals who are experienced in these cases is a critical first step.