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When working on estate planning in Florida, there are many things to consider. One part of the planning process is a healthcare advance directive, and it relates to making medical decisions. Not only should one make decisions about what should happen in an emergency, but it is also important to name the right person.

According to the Florida Health Finder, an advance directive is a legal document about medical decisions in the event the person experiences a mental or physical change that incapacitates decision-making abilities. A directive can include organ donation, a living will, a surrogate designation or a combination of the three.

A living will directs the type of medical care, and a healthcare surrogate is a person who will make the decisions based off the patient’s wishes. The Mayo Clinic outlines some decisions a person should consider when writing a living will or outlining directions for the surrogate. Potential end-of-life decisions for care include:

  • Feeding tubes
  • CPR and ventilation
  • Dialysis
  • Use of antibiotics and pain medication
  • Comfort care
  • Do not resuscitate orders

The healthcare surrogate will be directing the patient’s medical decisions, so it is important to take care when choosing this person. A surrogate may not be part of the medical team and must meet the requirements for the position.

More importantly, this person should be trustworthy to follow through on the directives, even if there are disagreements. The surrogate should also be able to ask the medical team tough questions in regard to care and defend the patient’s wishes if the family wants to take different actions.

It is a good idea to name an alternate surrogate. A person can also cancel and change advance directives and surrogates at any time.