Many of us don’t have a family member to count on when important life decisions need to be made and we are unable to make them. For the first time, the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County are joining together to offer county residents an opportunity to register their choice of a support person empowered to make specific decisions in the event you become incapacitated or die. The Health, Education and Life Planning or HELP registry is administered by the Hillsborough County Clerk’s office. For a $50 one time filing fee, every Hillsborough County resident can obtain peace of mind that a trusted friend or neighbor is able to make certain specific decisions when you can’t.
The HELP affidavit, available online from the Hillsborough County Clerk’s website, allows you to choose from several rights and powers you want to give another person. You can select another person as your Health Care Surrogate, as an allowed visitor if you are hospitalized or incarcerated, and/or as a person authorized to make burial arrangements on your behalf.
If you have dependent children in your care, you can designate a Pre-Need Guardian for the children, or designate a person to be allowed full access to the educational records of the children and involvement in any proceedings or decisions involving the education of the children. This is a service both married and single parents/guardians can use to ensure continuity of care in the event of both parents’ death or incapacity.
Also available is an affidavit for two people who want to give each other the same rights and powers. This could be very useful for two friends who both lack supportive family members. Senior citizens in particular are expected to be heavy users of the HELP registry. If you change your mind in the future, there is another form allowing you to terminate your choice of a support person. If you have privacy concerns, be aware that the filed forms are available for public viewing on the Clerk’s website.
If you would like to better understand the legal effects of filing one of these forms with the HELP registry, consult a qualified attorney for a consultation to discuss your goals and concerns.