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Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate Designation: What's the Difference?

Updated: Nov 8, 2017

When it comes to selecting the right Healthcare Advance Directive, it is critical to make the right choice for your needs. A Power of Attorney is a legal document that delegates authority from one person to another. In the document, the maker of the Power of Attorney (the “principal”), grants the right to an "agent" to act on their behalf. A Power of Attorney can grant authority specific to healthcare needs, and it becomes effective as soon as the principal signs it.


It is very important to note that any individual wanting to execute a Power of Attorney must be competent to understand what he or she is signing at the time the document is signed (its effect, to whom he or she is giving the Power of Attorney, and what property may be affected by it). For example, a person who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is no longer able to execute such document because he or she is no longer competent.


Unlike a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Surrogate Designation is a document in which a person (the “principal”) designates someone else to make health care decisions if he or she is unable to make those decisions. A health care surrogate decision-maker has no authority to act until such time as the attending physician has determined the principal lacks the capacity to make informed health care decisions.


Many healthcare providers prefer a designation of health care surrogate for health care decisions because the document is limited to health care. However, a Durable Power of Attorney specifically for health care may enable the designated agent to assist the principal in health care decisions even though he or she may not completely lack capacity.


We would be happy to advice you on which instrument(s) may be best suited for your needs, or the needs of your loved ones. #Orlando #Attorney #SidRomanLaw #PowerofAttorney #HealthcareSurrogate #AdvanceDirective #PeaceofMind

Source: The Florida Bar

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