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St. Petersburg Nursing Home AttorneyOnce you become a client, if you need a Power of Attorney, or a Healthcare Surrogate Designation, or a Living Will—or all three—we will prepare these for you at no charge. These documents allow you to control every aspect of your loved one’s medical care—from choosing a nursing home to obtaining copies of medical records.

A Healthcare Surrogate Designation allows a nursing home resident or hospital patient to name a person (usually a relative) who will make all decisions regarding health care when the resident or patient is no longer capable of making those decisions. A Healthcare Surrogate Designation can be very useful because it requires the nursing home (or hospital or doctor) to obtain consent from you for any decision pertaining to your loved one’s medical care, and to answer to you just as if you were the patient.

A Power of Attorney (“POA”) allows a person (called the “Principal”) to designate another person as the Principal’s “Attorney in Fact”. The Attorney in Fact must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The Power of Attorney can be limited or general. A limited POA applies only to those matters designated in the Power of Attorney. An example would be a POA limited to financial matters. A general POA allows the Attorney in Fact to act on the Principal’s behalf on all matters. For example, under a general POA, the Attorney in Fact can write (or cash) checks; sign a contract or a deed; file the Principal’s tax return; file (or defend) a lawsuit; etc. However, even a general POA has limitations. For example, an Attorney in Fact cannot vote for the Principal in a public election, or change the Principal’s will. A Power of Attorney can be very useful because it grants an adult child of a nursing home resident, for example, the authority to manage the resident’s affairs when he or she can no longer do so, such as Social Security issues, Medicare/Medicaid issues, and any other financial issues.

A Living Will is a written declaration by an adult stating that if he or she should develop a terminal condition or is in a persistent vegetative state and there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery, then life-prolonging procedures are to be withheld when those procedures would only serve to prolong artificially the person’s death. Of course, the patient is still administered medication and appropriate medical procedures are performed when necessary to provide comfort and alleviate pain. The idea is to allow the terminal patient to die a natural death, peacefully and with dignity. A Living Will can help avoid the dilemma and uncertainty that often occurs during the last days and weeks of the terminal patient’s life, and instead can offer comfort and solace to grieving family members.

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