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What is Medical Power of Attorney and How Does it Work?


A medical power of attorney is a type of advance directive that allows a person to name someone they trust to make healthcare-related decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to make decisions on their own.

Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes governs the legal rules regarding a healthcare power of attorney and other advance directives in Florida. If you are considering drafting a medical power of attorney, it is advised to consult with a St. Petersburg estate planning attorney to protect your legal rights and help you gather necessary documents.

What is a Power of Attorney for Healthcare (healthcare surrogate designation)?

A medical power of attorney is also known as a health care surrogate designation in Florida. If you wish to designate a health care surrogate to make decisions concerning your health, including what treatment to receive or reject, you must do so before becoming incapacitated.

Who Can Be Your Health Care Surrogate?

When selecting a health care surrogate, you must ensure that the person is at least 18 years of age. It is important to talk to your nominated individual before you complete an advance directive.  You can talk to this person about your preferences and if he or she is comfortable making these types of decisions on your behalf.

Also, it may be a good idea to designate another person as an alternative in case your preferred designation is unable to make decisions after your incapacity.

How to Create a Designation of Health Care Surrogate?

Section 765.202, Florida Statutes, requires a principal (the person creating an advance directive) to sign their designation of a health care surrogate in the presence of two adult witnesses. If you are unable to sign the document yourself, you can have someone else sign it for you at your direction.

However, at least one of the witnesses should not be your blood relative or spouse. Also, none of the witnesses can be your designated health care surrogate.

What Decisions Can a Health Care Surrogate Make?

After naming someone you trust to be your health care surrogate through a medical power of attorney, the designated surrogate will have the right to make decisions concerning your health when you are unable to make them for yourself, including:

  • Making end-of-life decisions (telling doctors to provide end life-prolonging procedures);
  • Making decisions related to medical treatment; and
  • Express your wishes about a body donation procedure after your death.

When Does a Medical Power of Attorney End?

The authority of the designated health care surrogate ends when:

  • The principal dies;
  • The principal decides to revoke the power of attorney;
  • A court determines the principal to be totally or partially incapacitated and a guardian of the person is appointed;
  • The purpose of the advance directive is complete; or
  • The term of the document has expired.

It is imperative that you consult with a skilled estate planning lawyer in Florida to help create and sign a medical power of attorney. Your lawyers at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, will help you handle the legal aspects of designating a health care surrogate. Call at 727-471-5868 to discuss your case.

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