In life, it is essential to prepare for the unexpected. Considering an unforeseen situation may happen to anyone at any age, one should have legal tools in place to designate someone to handle medical decisions on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation.
In this article, you will discover who is allowed to serve as a health care surrogate in Florida.
Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation – Key Elements
A health care surrogate designation is a legal document in which a person (the principal) grants another party (the surrogate) the authority to make health care decisions on his or her behalf.
Florida Statutes §765.202 (1) provide that “a written document designating a surrogate to make health care decisions for a principal or receive health information on behalf of a principal, or both, shall be signed by the principal in the presence of two subscribing adult witnesses.”
If the principal is not able to sign the document, he or she must “in the presence of witnesses, direct that another person sign the principal’s name as required herein.”
Another crucial execution requirement established by §765.202 (2) is 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.”
Florida Statutes §765.202 (7) states that “unless the document states a time of termination, the designation shall remain in effect until revoked by the principal.”
Who Can be a Health Care Surrogate Florida? – The Essentials
Under Florida law, any competent person above 18 years of age can be appointed as a health care surrogate. Hence, the principal can choose any eligible relatives or friends, such as a spouse or an adult child as a health care surrogate.
As the person designated as your surrogate must act only within the limits imposed by the document’s instructions, you can dictate which medical treatments you want to receive in specific circumstances.
If there are no specific instructions regarding a certain health care decision, the designated surrogate should decide exclusively based on the principal’s best interests.
Before choosing the person to serve as a surrogate, the ideal approach is to consult with an expert attorney for an individual assessment.
After choosing the right person to serve as a health care surrogate, it is crucial to have a conversation with that person to express your beliefs and personal preferences regarding health care and life-prolonging treatments.
If applicable, make sure to explain any relevant cultural or religious viewpoints that may affect your medical preferences if you are unable to communicate.
Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation – Is it Necessary to Designate an Alternate Surrogate?
As provided by Florida Statutes 765.202 (3), “a document designating a health care surrogate may also designate an alternate surrogate provided the designation is explicit.”
The same statute adds that “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. The principal’s failure to designate an alternate surrogate shall not invalidate the designation of a surrogate.”