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In order to ensure that competent adults retain the right to make decisions concerning their own health, including the right to receive or refuse treatment, Florida enacted Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes, which provides rules regarding advance directives. A health care surrogate designation and a health care power of attorney allow a designated person to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to make them yourself. These documents are created before you become incapacitated. The experienced Brevard County attorneys at Goldman, Monaghan, Thakkar & Bettin, P.A. can help you draft a health care power of attorney or other estate planning documents that protect your rights.

Designating a Health Care Surrogate or Power of Attorney

Florida law recognizes the right of a competent adult to create an advance directive that tells his or her doctor to provide, withhold, or withdraw life-prolonging procedures, to designate another individual to make any treatment decisions that he or she becomes unable to make, or to express the desire to make an anatomical donation after death.

There are differences between health care surrogate designations and durable powers of attorney. With a health care surrogate designation, a principal assigns somebody else to make health care decisions if the principal becomes incapacitated. However, the surrogate doesn’t have authority to act until an attending physician decides the principal lacks capacity to make informed health care decisions. If the attending physician isn’t sure about whether the principal lacks capacity, he or she must have a second physician who agrees that the principal lacks capacity to make medical decisions before the health care surrogate can make a decision.

How does a durable power of attorney differ? Some durable powers of attorney are specifically for health care. They can designate an agent to help the principal in making health care decisions even though the principal is not totally incapacitated. Some Florida medical providers prefer the designation of health care surrogate, however, since it solely addresses health care.

The authority of the agent with regard to a power of attorney ends when the principal dies, the principal revokes the power of attorney, the principal is totally or partially incapacitated as determined by a court, the purpose of the power of attorney is completed, or the term of the power of attorney expires. If the agent is the principal’s spouse, filing a petition for divorce terminates the agent’s authority.

Anybody who continues to act as an agent for a principal after these specified events does not have authority to do so. If you are a principal who decides to revoke a power of attorney, you must revoke it in writing and provide notice to the agent and anyone else who would rely on the power of attorney, such as your health care provider.

Consult a Cocoa Attorney Skilled in Wills and Trusts

Everybody has the right to make his or her own health care decisions. Once you are suffering from a serious mental or physical impairment, it is important to have the help of someone you trust. If you need to create a health care document in the Cocoa area, the wills and trusts lawyers of Goldman, Monaghan, Thakkar & Bettin, P.A. may be able to help. Contact us at 321-353-7625 or via our online form.