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Law Changes Make Health Care Surrogacy Easier

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Many are aware of how important it is to have a designated health care surrogate. A surrogate can be designated with a simple form, and can help make crucial health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated or simply in a position where you can’t make those decisions on your own.

Changes to Surrogacy

But many aren’t aware that Florida recently changed its laws to make it easier to designate a health care surrogate. Previously, there had to be a designation of incapacity in order for a surrogate to make decisions. For example, a patient would have had to be in a coma, or be suffering dementia, before the surrogate can make decisions.

New legal changes now allow someone to designate a surrogate even if they aren’t incapacitated. That surrogate can take an active role in assisting someone in making health care decisions, without having to worry about resorting to court action to obtain a declaration of incapacity. It can also eliminate problems where a patient may be partially incapacitated—for example, someone who is in and out of consciousness. Now, neither the patient nor the hospital needs to worry about who they are legally allowed to speak with or take direction from.

No Loss of Authority

In case you were worried about someone you designate overruling your own medical decisions, the law says that if you aren’t incapacitated, your decisions take priority over a designated surrogate if you aren’t incapacitated. Additionally, your medical providers are still required to speak with you and inform you about medical care and treatment. This means you aren’t giving up any of your own power to make your own medical decisions.

This is helpful for those who may simply want someone else to make important healthcare decisions, and as a practical matter, will make it easier for hospitals and health care providers to speak with loved ones and relatives, even if you aren’t incapacitated.

It may also be helpful for parents who want to designate someone, in addition to themselves, as a healthcare surrogate for a child. An example may be where a parent is travelling without their child, but wants to designate someone to make health decisions for the child should something happen in their absence.

New Law is Only an Option

The old, “incapacitated-only” surrogacy is still viable, as the new law is only an option. That means that if you want the option, you’ll need to draft a separate durable health care surrogate form explicitly saying you’re designating a surrogate even in the absence of incapacity. Any current forms you may have executed may not do the trick.

These new surrogacy appointments can be revoked and changed, so you’re not bound to them. Just make sure that if you do change them, you follow proper procedures to make sure you’re properly revoking or changing prior directives.

Plan your estate carefully and take advantage of new health care planning laws. Contact Tampa business attorney David Toback to discuss a comprehensive estate protection plan.

Resources:

floridabar.org/tfb/TFBConsum.nsf/0a92a6dc28e76ae58525700a005d0d53/1f6f8a67f5a2382d8525770e005747fd!OpenDocument

leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0765/Sections/0765.202.html

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