It is impossible to know what lies ahead of us in life. Hence, it is essential to prepare for unforeseen events that may result in temporary or permanent incapacitation. Keep reading to discover how to designate a healthcare surrogate in Florida.
Florida Designation of Healthcare Surrogate – Understanding the Concept
In a health care surrogate designation, you (the principal) are allowed to designate a third party (the surrogate) to handle your health care decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
Depending on the document’s provisions, the effectiveness of a health care surrogate designation can start immediately or upon the principal’s incapacitation. If the document has immediate effect and the principal is not incapacitated, his or her decisions will be final.
However, the surrogate is still granted access to the principal’s medical information. This type of provision is usually included in health care surrogate designations used by elderly individuals who need daily supervision and assistance from an adult child, or another loved one.
How Do You Designate a Healthcare Surrogate in Florida? – As Provided by Law
Within state jurisdiction, the validity of a healthcare surrogate designation depends on whether the document was properly executed.
As provided by Florida Statutes §765.202 (1), the document “shall be signed by the principal in the presence of two subscribing adult witnesses.”
If the principal is unable to personally sign the instrument, he or she must, “in the presence of witnesses, direct that another person sign the principal’s name as required herein. An exact copy of the instrument shall be provided to the surrogate.”
Florida Statutes §765.202 (2) specifies that “the person designated as surrogate shall not act as witness to the execution of the document designating the health care surrogate. At least one person who acts as a witness shall be neither the principal’s spouse nor blood relative.”
The document must “may also designate an alternate surrogate provided the designation is explicit. The alternate surrogate may assume his or her duties as surrogate for the principal if the original surrogate is not willing, able, or reasonably available to perform his or her duties.” (Fla. Stat. §765.202 (3))
Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), personal medical information is considered privileged information.
Hence, Florida Statutes §765.202 (6) provides that “a principal may stipulate in the document that the authority of the surrogate to receive health information or make health care decisions, or both, is exercisable immediately without the necessity for a determination of incapacity (…).”
Ultimately, “unless the document states a time of termination, the designation shall remain in effect until revoked by the principal.” (Fla. Stat. §765.202 (7))
Who is Authorized to Serve as a Florida Healthcare Surrogate?
Under Florida law, any competent individual over the age of 18 can be designated as a health care surrogate. In the document, the principal must expressly direct or restrict their medical preferences and the level of authority granted to the surrogate.
As the designated healthcare surrogate must act only within the limits imposed by the principal, failing to comply with any related legal provisions may result in hefty legal consequences.
The ideal approach is to work with an expert attorney to find a trustworthy surrogate and ensure your wishes are properly carried out during the end-of-life process.