Often in consultations I have to make up hypothetical situations to illustrate the usefulness of lifetime documents like a durable power of attorney and a health care surrogate. If you’ve been in a consultation with me, you’ve probably heard the story of my broken ankle and the ease of transferring my records to the orthopaedist because my wife was my healthcare surrogate. Right now there is a very real issue that everyone is concerned about- COVID- 19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus.
The reality of this disease is that it appears to have a very low mortality rate. It is much more likely that we may experience missing work, or possibly quarantine. Taking appropriate precautions suggested by the CDC- like washing your hands or staying home from work when you’re sick.
How can having a Durable Power of Attorney help me if I get Coronavirus?
A durable power of attorney is a delegation of power to a person of your choosing to act on your behalf, even if you’re incapacitated. Powers of attorney are governed by Florida Statutes Chapter 709. Every time I read a story about people experiencing extended travel delays, and in some cases quarantine, I really hope those people have properly executed power of attorney documents. A power of attorney will let your chosen person take care of most things you could do.
Did you go on a cruise when you’re closing on a house a couple of weeks after you get back? Ok, so, maybe it’s not that dramatic of a situation. If you don’t have a joint account, your attorney-in-fact can make sure you don’t miss a house payment, rent payment, or pick up your dog from the kennel.
The kennel is probably fun for a while, but the cost can really pile up. A power of attorney and a friend willing to watch the pup can really save you a lot of money (and make sure your dog is staying with a loved one if the delay is extended).
A durable power of attorney will help you feel confident that your legal affairs won’t go unattended, even if you can’t be there personally. A durable power of attorney can help with many legal concerns, taking care of health decisions requires a different document called a healthcare surrogate.
A Health Care Surrogate Can Protect Your Medical Interests.
A health care surrogate document is a delegation of power of your choosing to make health care decisions on behalf, even if you’re incapacitated. Health care surrogates are governed by Florida Statutes Chapter 765. If you are confined to a hospital for treatment, or are unable to make decisions for yourself, a health care surrogate will make sure some stranger isn’t guessing what your health care decision would be- it will be the person you chose. I advise naming someone who knows what you would choose in a given situation.
If you have a weakened immune system or are of advanced age, you are more susceptible to many illnesses, Coronavirus included. In addition to a durable power of attorney, you should have a properly executed health care surrogate. I include a release that will allow your chosen surrogate to access your medical records.
It can be a nightmare trying to get medical facilities in different insurance networks to share records. If you are quarantined or you are not given the choice as to which hospital in which you are treated, it can be very difficult to collect and transmit your records.
Legal Planning and Coronavirus.
As I mentioned before, taking reasonable precautions like washing your hands can mitigate your chances of contracting many illnesses, even Coronavirus. Reasonable precautions like creating an estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney and health care surrogate can protect your legal interests as well. If you want to know more about estate planning, click here.
Taking reasonable steps to plan and prepare can save you stress and confusion in the event of an emergency.
Contact our office today to set up your free consultation. We can help you create and execute an estate plan that fits your needs.
This blog post does not create an attorney client relationship. Also, we’re not doctors, if you’re not feeling well consult a medical professional. Finally, get your information regarding contagious disease from a reputable source, like cdc.gov