The Designation of Health Care Surrogate is a document describing your appointment of your health care surrogate (and successor health care surrogates), and authorizing your health care surrogate to make decisions related to your medical care. Such decision-making authority includes the following:
- to have access to and receive your medical information;
- to make medical decisions (providing informed consent, refusing consent, or withdrawing consent) regarding your health care; and
- to apply for private, public, government or veteran’s benefits, on your behalf, to defray the costs for your medical care.
Before September 30, 2015, a Florida Designation of Health Care Surrogate only took effect upon an individual becoming incapacitated, which was determined by the individual’s attending physician, and remained in effect until the individual regained capacity. However, complexities in determining whether a person was incapacitated and the level or degree of incapacity, created difficulties and delays for incapacitated individuals to receive necessary, immediate assistance in making health care decisions or accessing health care information.
On September 30, 2015, Florida law regarding the Designation of Health Care Surrogate changed with the passage of Florida Statutes §765.202 and Florida Statutes §765.2035. The current Florida Statutes §765.202 allows an individual to decide if he or she wants the authority of the health care surrogate to take effect immediately, or upon the incapacity of the individual who is making the Designation of Health Care Surrogate. The current Florida Statutes §765.2035 allows a parent, legal custodian or legal guardian of a minor child to designate a competent adult to be the health care surrogate of the minor child if the parents are unable to act.
In Florida, a health care surrogate can be any competent person, who is age 18 years or older.
For a Designation of Health Care Surrogate to be valid in Florida, the principal must be competent to sign the Designation of Health Care Surrogate and understand what he or she is signing at the time the Designation of Health Care Surrogate is signed. The Designation of Health Care Surrogate must also be signed by the principal, and by two witnesses to the principal’s signature. Each witness must be a competent person, who is at least 18 years old. Neither of the witnesses can be an appointed health care surrogate, and at least one witness cannot be a spouse or a blood relative. The Designation of Health Care Surrogate does not need to be notarized.
If you need help to prepare a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, please contact our office to set up an appointment and get started.