Health Care Advance Directives in Your Florida Estate Plan

A catastrophic accident or illness can happen when you least expect it, taking away your ability to make your own decisions about your medical and health care treatment. If that were to happen to you, would you be prepared?

As part of your well-rounded estate plan, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate allows you to appoint another person (or persons) to make all health care decisions for you, should you become so disabled you cannot communicate or make those decisions yourself. Some clients are concerned that if they regain the ability to make decisions, their surrogate will still retain that control. A properly worded Designation of Health Care Surrogate will not let this occur.

The Designation of Health Care Surrogate Form

The Designation of Health Care Surrogate is a witnessed document in which you name your representative, who is authorized to make medical decisions for you, should you not be able to do so yourself. This form may be used alone or in conjunction with a Living Will and a HIPAA Release.

You may designate your spouse, an adult child or other family member, a friend, or anyone you thoroughly trust. You may also designate an alternate surrogate, in the event the original surrogate is unable to perform his or her duties. You can also designate two or more people to act at the same time, though this is not usually recommended and if it is to be done, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help prevent errors in drafting that make this arrangement complicated. It is also important to note that under Florida law, none of your potential health care surrogates may serve as a witness to the signing of the document.

Having properly executed a Designation of Health Care Surrogate before a medical emergency can help ensure your treatment is carried out as quickly as possible, and can help minimize disagreements between family and friends regarding who should be making medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable.