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What is a health care surrogate?

The reason so many people don't like to discuss end of life plans is because it requires them to consider the what ifs in life. Most of the time, these what ifs are not very pleasant. What if you become incapacitated? What if you're in an accident? And, what if you require long-term care? None of these questions strike up happy conversation, yet they are questions that need to be addressed.

One of the most important and beneficial things you can do for yourself and your family is designate a health care surrogate or agent. This person holds onto your durable power of attorney and is designated responsible for your health care decisions, in the event you are unable to make them. By early designation of a health care surrogate, you can discuss with them your wishes in the event you are ill, incapacitated or die. Keeping them fully informed of your wishes will make their decisions, and your health care, easier to manage.

Very often, individuals designate family members to be their health care surrogate. Sometimes there is just one person responsible for health care decisions, other times the responsibility is divided among many individuals. However you decide to choose a health care surrogate, there are a few things you will likely consider before hand. Do you trust this person, or people? Do they have a full understanding of your wishes? Are they close by, or can they be in case of an emergency?

Designating a health care surrogate is a big decision. It requires open communication and a certain level of trust. If you are in the process of creating a durable power of attorney and naming a health care surrogate, an estate planning attorney may be able to help.

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