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Handling Disputes with Health Care Surrogates in Florida


A health care surrogate is someone you grant permission to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated and cannot make decisions yourself. The appointment is done through a Designation of Health Care Surrogate form.

When you designate someone, it’s important to go over your wishes with them or there may be disputes later on. In the event they don’t know the exact decisions you would make, then they should proceed with deciding what course of action is in your best interests. In the event a dispute arises, you may need the assistance of a skilled Pompano Beach estate litigation attorney.

Who Can Be Appointed as a Health Care Surrogate?

You can name any competent adult who is 18 years of age or older as your chosen health care surrogate. You should ask the individual first before you complete the paperwork and your advance directive. It’s recommended you also have a second person in mind in the event your first choice is not available or does not feel comfortable making decisions on your behalf.

When it comes to naming your spouse as your health care surrogate, the appointment would be revoked in the event you divorce. If your advance directive dictates that your ex will remain your health care surrogate even after divorce, then the appointment would still be valid.

Completing Your Health Care Surrogate Paperwork

Naming someone as your health care surrogate is more complex than just filling out a form. You need to sign and date the form, plus you need to have it witnessed. In the event you cannot sign it, then you would need to have someone else sign it. You must also have two witnesses. Witnesses must be adults, and your health care surrogate cannot be one of them. The witnesses should not be your spouse or someone else who is a blood relative.

Who Makes Healthcare Decisions When You Don’t Have a Health Care Surrogate?

If you do not have a health care surrogate, the doctor will be required to use a specific list to determine who can make decisions on your behalf. The list includes:

  • Guardian (only if the court has appointed one)
  • Spouse
  • Adult children
  • Parent(s)
  • Adult siblings
  • Another relative who has enough knowledge to know what you would choose to do
  • A friend who knows your wishes well enough

In the event you don’t have any of these people, then the hospital’s ethics committee might approve a social worker from another hospital. This person would speak with your doctors and make a decision about what course of action is best for you. 

Contact a Florida Estate Litigation Attorney

When someone names multiple health care surrogates, there is a risk for disagreement or conflict. Medical practice and prevailing Florida law will dictate how to resolve the dispute. Disputes are not uncommon in probate, trust, and estate-related matters. Don’t attempt to resolve these disputes on your own. Speak with a Pompano Beach Estate and Trust litigation attorney early on. Contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.


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