DPOA vs HCS: Comparing the Powers under Key Estate Plan Pieces

Money and Stethoscope Title Pic

In a recent Instagram post, a question was posed about a DPOA vs HCS. Do you know the difference between a Durable Power of Attorney and a Health Care Surrogate Designation?

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document used to grant power to a person to make decisions for you in the case of incapacity or even unavailability. A Health Care Surrogate Designation also grants power, but this limits the power to medical decisions. Both are part of a comprehensive estate plan.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney authorizes your agent to, essentially, step into your shoes in order to handle your affairs and conduct business on your behalf. This business includes the business of your everyday life. This could include paying your bills, conducting banking, applying for benefits, filing insurance claims, etc. But much of this cannot be done without a comprehensive power of attorney.

In Florida, you are allowed to assign your agent under your Durable Power of Attorney the power to make medical decisions. But traditionally, we use a separate document for the. The Durable Power of Attorney is often much longer and detailed for financial decisions. The Health Care Surrogate Designation contains greater detail pertaining to health and making those decisions for you.

Health Care Surrogate Designation

The person you designate under the Health Care Surrogate Designation is able to make medical decisions for you. Since 2015, this person may act whether or not you have capacity, if you granted that immediate power. If you do have capacity, though, your decision will always control over your surrogate's. The person with decision-making power can withdraw, withhold, or request life-sustaining or life-saving treatments.

Most Health Care Surrogate Designations also provide for the release of private medical information. Because this language might not be comprehensive enough, McCreary Law Office provides clients with a separate HIPAA form to address those issue.

DPOA vs HCS: The Risks of Not Naming Anyone

If either position, your agent or your surrogate, has not been appointed in advance, the decision maker will be selected as per Florida law. This means that the court might appoint a guardian, which can be costly. The appointed guardian could be the spouse, an adult child, a parent, a sibling, a relative, a close friend, or even a stranger who is a professional guardian. By planning in advance, you can select who will be your voice. And if you are in a long-term relationship but not married, this document is even more critical if you prefer to have your partner as the person to carry out your personal wishes.

Categories: Powers of Attorney