LegalJourney Blog

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Estate Planning & The Critical Documents You Need

The 2015 Florida Health Care Surrogate Act allows you to choose someone to act for you in the future.  The individual designated under this act is called the “Durable Health Care Surrogate” (DHCS).  In the proper legal document, you may permit this person to act on your behalf even if you are not or do not become completely debilitated.  

A DHCS may be attractive to you because the surrogate would be able to act instantaneously, rather than having to wait for your “incapacity,” the triggering event, to be absolutely certain.  Time is of the essence because any lapse of time could possibly delay your medical treatment.  Moreover, a surrogate can also be appointed by you to act for your child or children if you are physically and mentally impaired.  

A Living Will comes into play when you are suffering from a life-threatening injury or condition that may warrant the implementation of life support.  It is essential to have a skilled attorney draft your Living Will to ensure that your directions are clear and unambiguous—otherwise, there may a risk that, upon emergency, your wishes might not be carried out the way you intended. 

More importantly, since the provisions of the Living Will are triggered upon your incapacitation, you will not be coherent enough to advocate for yourself in the happenstance that there is an ambiguity in the document.  If desired, your attorney can name your Surrogate within your Living Will to make sure that your complete intent is carried out. 

Likewise, an attorney will also inform you of the entities or medical providers that should be provided with copies of your Living Will to establish its future implementation.  However, your HIPPA rights remain intact notwithstanding the above delegations of power.  Yet, if you desire the Surrogate, your attorney, or another party to be privy to your health information, an attorney can advise you as to how this medical information may be legally shared. 

It is also advisable to document a Power of Attorney.  He or she may act on your behalf regarding your finances, in life-threatening situations.  You should consult your attorney regarding the various types of powers, such as a “Durable” or a “Springing” Power of Attorney, and what type of authority each grants. 


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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