Attorney Stephen F. Beiner, of Beiner, Inkeles & Horvitz, P.A. Announces Important Changes to the Florida Health Care Surrogate Act

Top Quote Attorney Stephen F. Beiner, announces two important changes to the Florida Health Care Surrogate Act that will impact anyone who chooses to execute a Designation of Health Care Surrogate as well as all parents of minor children. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) December 12, 2015 - Enacted in 1992, the Florida Health Care Surrogate Act legally recognizes an individual's right to designate a Health Care Surrogate. A Health Care Surrogate is someone who may make healthcare decisions for a principal and/or access health care information on behalf of the principal. Prior to the recent changes, a Health Care Surrogate could only act after the principal was found to be incapacitated, either by a treating physician or a court order. According to attorney Stephen F. Beiner, the inability to act on the part of a surrogate often created a barrier to treatment. "In my more than 37 years of practicing law, I have seen numerous cases where the person named as Health Care Surrogate needed to act on an emergency basis but could not because he/she was unable to get the doctor to declare the patient (the "principal") incompetent. This change in the law rectifies that, so that the Health Care Surrogate can act without delay. Hurray for the Florida legislature!"

    The recent revisions, which went into effect October 1, 2015, allow a principal to include language that will now allow a surrogate to act prior to obtaining an incapacity determination. This is particularly important where the cognition of the principal may fluctuate between capacity and incapacity or where the principal's physician is not readily available or willing to sign a document declaring that the principal is incapacitated. The ability to act without a designation of incapacity is vital in instances where the Health Care Surrogate is required to act immediately. Although the need to obtain an official designation of incapacity is no longer necessary, the scope of authority given to a surrogate remains tied to the incapacity of the principal. "Keep in mind that a Health Care Surrogate only steps in when the principal is unable to act. As long as the principal has full mental capacity the principal will continue to make his or her own decisions without consent or confirmation from the surrogate. Moreover, the designation of a surrogate may be revised or revoked at any time by the principal."

    According to attorney Beiner, the second important change to the Act affects parents with minor children. "In the past I have urged clients to execute a Power of Attorney whenever they travel or otherwise place their minor children in someone else's care. This new addition to the Health Care Surrogate Act now allows parents to name a Healthcare Surrogate for a minor child in the event that the parents are unable to act, providing parents with ongoing assurance that a designated surrogate will always be able to make healthcare decisions for the child without the delay of locating a parent who is temporarily unavailable."

    "I strongly recommend that my clients revise their Health Care Surrogate Designations to allow the surrogate to act immediately rather than having to obtain either a finding of incapacity by their doctor or a declaration of incapacity by the court. Clients who have minor children are also urged to name a Health Care Surrogate for their children in the event that both parents are temporarily unavailable to make an emergency health care decision for the child," recommends attorney Beiner.

    Attorney Stephen F. Beiner can be reached at Beiner, Inkeles & Horvitz, P.A. by calling 561- 750-1800 or via email at sfbeiner ( @ ) beinerlaw dot com.

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