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Florida Health Care Surrogate Designations, Health Care POA and Living Will
This section of the article discusses three different documents because they are closely related and all deal with healthcare decision making. Sometimes they are collectively referred to as Healthcare Advanced Directives.
In short, the Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation is the person (or people) you designate to access your health records and make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
In other states, the health care surrogate is often called a “Health Care Proxy.” But in Florida a health-care proxy has a different legal definition – it is who can make healthcare decisions when no one has been designated in writing.
The Living Will only comes into play during a likely end-of-life scenario – what is commonly referred to as an “end stage condition” for which medical treatment would be ineffective. It applies to those who are comatose or in a persistent vegetative state or other condition that results in extreme physical or mental disability with no reasonable medical probability of regaining awareness or higher mental functions.
In these end-of life situations, you are making your wishes known: do you want to be kept alive no matter what or do you want to just be kept out of pain and allowed to pass peacefully? Do you want to be force fed and kept breathing artificially? Do you want CPR or doctors to use a defibrillator should you go into cardiac arrest (all while in an end-stage condition)? Do you want to be subject to potentially painful and invasive diagnostic testing? There is no correct answer.
But these are the questions that living wills are designed to answer (and doctors are instructed to follow). Do you want DNR – Do Not Resuscitate Orders in your File?
A Health Care Power of Attorney is sort of a redundant concept like the healthcare surrogate. We simply include a healthcare POA with our healthcare surrogate designations to make a more powerful document that makes it absolutely clear who is empowered to make healthcare decisions for the principal
You Never EVER Lose the Ability to Make Health Care Decisions for Yourself!
Importantly, regardless of who you designate to make these healthcare decisions, the health care surrogate designation is very clear on the fact that as long as you can communicate the doctors will only take healthcare orders from you, not your designated health care surrogate!
Furthermore, you can make the health care surrogate document clearly state whether the surrogate has the ability to make decisions now or only upon you being deemed incapacitated.
What if my health care surrogate is out of town or unavailable when I need him/her? There is good reason to appoint two co-health care surrogates or a backup / successor health care surrogate.
For snowbirds, this can be an especially useful tool (i.e. client lives in New York and in Florida depending on the month. We can then name one health care surrogate who lives in New York and another who lives in Florida). The reasoning behind this is: certain decisions often cannot wait for a single surrogate to hop on a plane, if mom is in Florida when she becomes incapacitated, the Florida health care surrogate ought to be able to make decisions.
Additional Incapacity Planning Articles and Videos
What happens after I sign a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care?
Is Your Old Florida Power of Attorney Problematic?
Can a Bank Reject My Durable Power of Attorney?
Free Power of Attorney Forms (Problems)
Power of Attorney Risks