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Benefits of health care surrogates and durable powers of attorney

Many families across the United States face the devastating diagnosis of terminal cancers or the catastrophic effects of debilitating car crashes. Yet thinking about your assets and medical care if you are injured or fall ill proves difficult.

Especially as we age, it gets more essential to prepare for significant life changes. Although it may prove tough, designating loved ones to take the role of determining both your medical treatment and helping sort through your assets is responsible. Should you find yourself incapable of making sound decisions, naming a family member as a health care surrogate or a durable power of attorney helps you find peace of mind in knowing your health and property lies in safe hands.

In developing this documentation, you want to hire an experienced estate planning attorney to walk you through the steps of delegating responsibilities. You may not ever need to seek the aid of either individual, but naming caretakers of your money and medical decisions constitutes a prepared decision.

Health care surrogates and durable powers of attorney roles

  • Healthcare surrogates: Healthcare surrogates make decisions about your health when an illness or life-threatening accident occurs. According to Kentucky law, healthcare surrogates use their authority when you cannot speak or make sound medical decisions for yourself. After you choose a surrogate, he or she makes decisions about prolonging your care and determines the best medical treatment for your current state.
  • Durable powers of attorney: A durable power of attorney includes more responsibility than a healthcare surrogate. While health care surrogates solely deal with your medical health, durable POAs have authority to make decisions regarding:
    • Finances
    • Assets
    • Health
    • Personal affairs

Both individual designations require significant responsibility. You want to ensure that your health care surrogate or your durable power of attorney understands his or her role, and that you understand the authority you grant to them with the documents. An attorney can aid you in developing a clear healthcare surrogate or a durable power of attorney document, so that your health and property can securely lie in accountable hands.

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