It’s human nature not to want to plan ahead for things we don’t want to face, like our own death or an illness that may incapacitate us to the point where we need someone to step in and handle our health care decisions. But when you don’t plan for these events, it is likely that the decisions you would have made for yourself may not be the ones chosen for you. And most of us really don’t want that.
A Florida Health Care Surrogate designation provides you with the opportunity to name a trusted person to make health care decisions for you in case you can’t and also allows you to spell out what kind of medical treatments you do or do not want to receive under certain circumstances.
The person you choose as your healthcare agent does not have to live in Florida, but it should be someone who will travel to wherever you are, if necessary. This person will be responsible for making your healthcare decisions for you, so it should be someone who is reliable and who you can trust to carry out your wishes. They should also be able to carry out their duties regardless of any potential family opposition, as long as they are doing what you have directed.
On October 1, 2016, two key changes to the Florida Health Care Surrogate Act went into effect: (1) the person designated as a health care surrogate can act immediately, prior to any determination of incapacitation; and (2) a parent or guardian may now name a health care surrogate for a minor child in the event the parent/guardian is unable to act.
Choosing the right health care surrogate is a cornerstone of your advance medical directive, which is a written document, properly witnessed by another person that provides instructions concerning any aspect of a person’s health care. Advance medical directives — which include a Living Will — are important to have in place if you ever become too sick or disabled to express your treatment wishes.
Anyone may create a living will that directs medical professionals to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures if that person ever has an end-stage condition like a terminal illness or is in a persistent vegetative state. Upon such a declaration, the health care surrogate to whom the patient has previously given authority per the living will can then instruct the doctor or hospital authorities to remove the patient from life support.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with your long-term care and Medicaid planning, please contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.