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 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 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 you as the Principal 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 minors. While medical power of attorneys for minor children signed by the natural parents or legal guardians have been recognized in Florida for years, this section codifies and provides an alternative format solely for designation of health care surrogates for minors in the event their parents or legal guardians are for any reason unavailable. The statutory suggested format for minors 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 to schedule an appointment with any lawyer in our estate planning group. To contact Dana Gentry, Estate Planning attorney, call 941.748.0100 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.