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What is a health care surrogate?

What is a health care surrogate designation (aka healthy care proxy, advanced directive or medical power of attorney) and what happens when you don’t have one? A health care surrogate designation is a document wherein you appoint someone to make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

What happens if you don’t have one of these? Florida law says the following people (in the designated order) can make a health care decision for you:

1) Court appointed guardian
2) Spouse
3) Adult child, or if there is more than one adult child, a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation
4) Parent
5) Adult sibling, or if more than one sibling, a majority of the adult siblings who are reasonably available for consultation
6) An adult relative who has exhibited special care and concern, who has maintained regular contact and who is familiar with the person’s activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs
7) A close friend
8) A licensed clinical social worker

If you don’t want any of the above people making medical decisions for you, then you’d better execute a health care surrogate designation.

Also included in most health care surrogate designations is a HIPAA release, which is where you authorize someone to access your medical information. Believe it or not, even though all of the aforementioned people can make medical decisions for you, they don’t have any access to your medical information . . . . . . go figure. Moral of the story, it’s best to have a health care surrogate designation in place.

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