Health Care Surrogate Law Update

Dana Gentry - Attorney

Dana Carlson Gentry, Esq., Board Certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates

The Florida Legislature has updated Florida’s Health Care Surrogate law effective October 1, 2015.  The new format states that the health care surrogate’s authority becomes effective when your Primary Physician determines that you are unable to make your own health care decisions. Primary physician is defined broadly to mean (1) a physician designated by you or your surrogate, or your agent under a durable power of attorney for health care if you have not designated a primary physician, or (2) if the designated physician is not reasonably available, a physician who undertakes the responsibility to be primary physician.  In the alternative, you can elect on the form itself to have the health care surrogate’s authority take effect immediately by checking an appropriate box, which is probably the best solution for you if you desire to have your health care concerns addressed quickly by the individual you have trusted to be your health care surrogate. The statutes and new format make it clear that the Principal (you) are to be kept informed,  you have full control over your health care decisions and you can supersede any instructions given by your surrogate.

In addition, the new Health Care Directive Statutes allow for the designation of a health care surrogate for a minor.  Medical power of attorneys for  minor children signed by the natural parents or a legal guardian have been recognized in Florida for years, this section codifies and provides an alternative format solely for designation of health care surrogates for a minor in the event their parents or legal guardian are for any reason are unavailable.  The statutory suggested format may not be adequate in every situation. For instance, while the statute allows for the Health Care Directive to continue until revoked or be limited in time or place, the form suggested is silent on that issue, a rather important detail for any concerned parent.

If you have any questions about the new statute, please call our office at 941.748.0100 to schedule an appointment with any lawyer in our Estate Planning group.  To contact Dana Gentry, please email dgentry@blalockwalters.com.