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Naples Estate Planning Lawyer > Blog > Estate Planning > Do I Need A Healthcare Surrogate Designation?

Do I Need A Healthcare Surrogate Designation?


No one likes to contemplate being in a position where they cannot make their own decisions, or lack the capacity to act for themselves. However, it is a possibility that one has to address, particularly if they are older or disabled. Florida law allows people to create what is known as a healthcare surrogate designation, which gives someone the right to make medical decisions for them if they become incapacitated, and even for those who are younger or in better health, it can be an integral part of one’s estate plan.

Someone To Communicate Your Wishes

A healthcare surrogate is a person to whom you grant the authority to carry out your wishes in the event of your becoming incapacitated. Sometimes this is confused with a living will, but the two are different – essentially, a living will contains your express wishes surrounding potential end-of-life care, while a healthcare surrogate has the authority to carry them out. The two together will provide the fullest explanation of your wishes, since your healthcare surrogate will be fully aware of what you want.

In terms of actually naming your healthcare surrogate, there are very few restrictions on who it can be. They do not need to reside in Florida, but if they do not, they should be ready to travel to you if necessary. They should be someone you trust, but unlike with other offices, there is no prohibition against those with criminal records, or anything of that nature. As long as the person can communicate your wishes effectively, they will generally be permitted to serve.

When Can They Act?

Historically, a Florida healthcare surrogate has only been able to act after a finding of incapacitation has been made by the attending physician. However, modifications to the law in 2016 widened the scope of time in which the surrogate can act. Now, the principal (the person who named the healthcare surrogate) has the discretion to decide when the surrogate can begin to act – either before or after a finding of incapacity. In other words, if the principal allows it, the healthcare surrogate can offer their input as to the principal’s medical care even if the principal is still able to advocate for themselves.

Keep in mind that a healthcare surrogate is not the same as a power of attorney. A power of attorney is broader in most cases, allowing an agent to act on the principal’s behalf in more aspects of life, rather than just in healthcare matters. A healthcare surrogate designation is sometimes referred to as a medical power of attorney, but a standard power of attorney grants much further-reaching powers than a healthcare surrogate designation in every respect.

Contact A Naples Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions, concerns or just want to set up a complimentary consultation to discuss your personal legal issues in a confidential setting, contact James R. Nici, the Managing Partner of Nici Law Firm, a Naples estate planning attorney with almost 30 years of legal experience.  This may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule your complimentary consultation.


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