It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 declaration as a pandemic in March of last year. It appears that the crisis won’t end anytime soon despite the rolling out of vaccines. It means that the strains of the novel coronavirus will continue to pose a threat to health and life in general.
If you’re old, physically disabled, or have an underlying health condition, you must come in prepared and ready for what lies ahead. As such, it’s a practical decision to come up with advanced medical directives during this pandemic. Included in these are living wills and a health care surrogate designation.
In this article, we’ll share with you what it takes to designate a health care surrogate. Keep on reading to know why you must consider doing so.
What is a health care surrogate?
In a nutshell, a health care surrogate is someone legally authorized to make medical decisions for you. The designated surrogate will do so if you are no longer capable of making the decisions for yourself. The health care surrogate designation also covers the appointment of a guardian if necessary. Ultimately, a health care surrogate designation is a legal document deemed as a Power of Attorney.
Some people will have both a living will and a health care surrogate designation. As such, you must ensure that both have only one person legally authorized as a health care surrogate. Otherwise, a lawyer becomes necessary should there be a conflict between the two.
Who can be a health care surrogate?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a health care surrogate. Legally speaking, any capable adult aged 18 years and above can be authorized. As long as that person agrees, you can formally complete the advanced directive.
In addition, you can add another person as an alternate surrogate. If the first person cannot make the medical decisions on your behalf, the alternate surrogate can take over.
For the most part, you may authorize your spouse or children to be your health care surrogate. But when doing so, it’s vital to choose the right person. Below are a few factors you must consider:
- Location: It’s better to choose someone readily available to make the medical decision for you in case of an emergency. The nearer the person to you is, the better.
- Physical condition: It’s best to opt for someone physically strong and active. It may be a challenge for someone to decide for you if that person is physically disabled.
- Mental ability: It’s imperative to designate a surrogate who is mentally stable. One must be capable of making a sound medical decision for you.
- Trustworthiness: It’s vital to look for someone you can trust and someone who has your best interest in mind.
- Willingness: Of course, you must assign someone willing to become your healthcare surrogate. Know that making a medical decision is not for the fainthearted. It takes tenacity to decide, especially if it’s a matter of life and death.
How to designate a health care surrogate
When designating a health care surrogate for your advanced medical directives, you must fill out a form. This designation form is usually available online. You can also obtain this document from your attorney. Once you have this handy, go ahead and fill that out. Fret not, as it is usually easy to read and understand.
It’s best to hire an estate planning lawyer to help you designate a health care surrogate. For your medical directives to be legally binding, they must meet the legal requirements outlined in your state. An attorney will be able to educate you and walk you through the whole process.
Why you should designation a health care surrogate
At this point, you may be wondering why it’s vital to have a health care surrogate designation. Consider the following benefits:
- Someone will make a medical decision for you in the event you’re unconscious and unable to communicate.
- Having a health care surrogate designation will prevent conflict among family members or relatives, especially if they have conflicting medical decisions.
- You can ensure that your loved one or the right person will be the one to make the medical decision for you.
- Having a designated health care surrogate will ensure an immediate medical decision and won’t delay the necessary medical treatments.
Having advanced medical directives is a practical decision to make in a pandemic. And that is to include the designation of a health care surrogate. That said, be sure to consider all the valuable information discussed above. Also, work with an estate planning attorney to ensure your advanced directives are within legal bounds. Ultimately, it’s better to be ready and prepared for future possibilities.