Health Care Surrogate (HCS)
You are lucky if you have been asked to serve as someone’s health care surrogate because you get a choice whether to accept the job. Many people name a health care surrogate without ever asking or informing the selected person. When a doctor calls to discuss an incapacitated person’s medical treatment, should not be the first time your informed of your duties and responsibilities as someone’s health care surrogate.
To Serve or Not to Serve that is the question?
If a parent or other close friend asks, you will want to agree, but you should first understand the health care surrogate duties and responsibilities. Do not think you won't be needed. There is no way to predict when you will be called on to make difficult health decisions. You should consider whether you have the temperament to serve. Could you follow your incapacitated person’s wishes when they don’t align with your beliefs? Are you located near the person or are you comfortable dealing with medical issues by phone or email? Lastly, do you have the time and the patience?
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Duties of a Health Care Surrogate (HCS).
The health care surrogate duties may include: 1) Approving various medical treatments, medications and tests. 2) Deciding where medical treatment will be performed. 3) Securing second opinions. 4) Dealing with Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance. 5) Deciding about end-of-life procedures. 6) Requesting and approving release of medical records. 7) Communicating with your loved one’s other family members.
Prepare to be a Health Care Surrogate (HCS)!
Once you agree to be a health care surrogate, you should learn about that person's wishes and values. You need to know where legal documents are located. You should talk to the person about his/her wishes. There are workbooks which can guide your discussions. Ask for a copy of their health care surrogate and the living will. Ensure the health care surrogate document has a HIPAA waiver. Find out the person’s health history, medications and names of doctors. Do religious and spiritual values enter the medical decisions?
Determine if you or someone else is the person’s attorney-in-fact under their Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) or Successor Trustee under their Revocable Trust. If it’s someone else, understand that that person will be able to approve or deny payment for any health-related services you have approved. To avoid any potential conflict, you, the medical decision maker, the person affected and the attorney-in-fact and/or the Successor Trustee should talk reaching a general understanding of what medical services will and won't be paid for.
John C. Murphy is committed to helping families prepare for the future. When you come in to discuss your needs and goals, I can help you decide who would be best suited to become your Health Care Surrogate. Contact me to learn more about your Estate Planning options appropriate for your situation. At Murphy's Law Offices, we are dedicated to providing estate planning and probate services to clients throughout Rockledge, Suntree, Viera as well as anywhere in Brevard County, Florida.
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