Should I Have a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare in Florida?

A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare can grant someone else the authority to manage your health and medical affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.  A Declaration of Health Care Surrogate although named differently has the same effect. A Durable Power of Attorney can give someone the right to act on your behalf when dealing with property and/or to make decisions for you regarding your health.  A Durable Power of Attorney is invalid at your death, and under Florida law is “suspended” if a Petition to Determine Incapacity is filed with the court.

A Durable Power of Attorney is separate and distinct from a Living Will and it is important to have both if you want to ensure that your wishes are respected about your treatment when you become seriously ill or incapacitated.  A Durable Power of Attorney does survive the fact of incapacity but may not survive an adjudication (by a court) of incapacity where a guardian may assume the role of healthcare spokesman.  That decision is left to the court.

Why You Need a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

For many people, there comes a time when illness or injury causes them to no longer be able to act on their own and make decisions about their lives or their future. When this time comes, a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare or a Declaration of Health Care Surrogate will stipulate who has the authority to make decisions regarding your treatment and care.

In Florida, by signing a Durable Power of Attorney you can designate who is in charge of decisions about your health, thus ensuring that the right person makes these choices for you. When you specify who should be consulted to make the decisions necessary about your medical care, you must be sure that the person who is making the decision is someone you can trust. You should also have a conversation with the person who you name as your agent to ensure that your agent knows exactly what your wishes are and what to keep in mind when making treatment decisions.  You should leave your Living Will with the agent.

The Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare is used in conjunction with the Living Will, which also empowers you to make decisions about life-sustaining treatment. With a Living Will, you specify specific actions that you do or do not want taken, such as whether you should be resuscitated or when you want life-saving measures to be used.  Do you want a feeding tube? Having a Living Will provides your family clear guidance when faced with making painful decisions such as when to turn off life support.

A Living Will, however, cannot possibly anticipate every single treatment decision that may need to be made. While your Living Will gives you the greatest control over the healthcare decisions that will affect your future, a Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare may name the person who decides when a treatment question arises that the Living Will does not cover.

Fortunately, it is easy to create both a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare in Florida with the help of a qualified and experienced estate planning or elder law attorney. By having both a Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare and a Living Will in effect, you can ensure that you are protected and that the right choices will be made no matter what type of medical emergency should happen to arise.

Carol J. Wallace

Carol J. Wallace

Carol Wallace has dedicated her career to serving the legal needs of seniors. Carol practiced many years in Alabama before relocating to Florida in 2008. She is certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation in 1996. She was the first attorney in Alabama with this distinction.

Carol was a partner in the Elder Law Firm of Glass & Wallace, P.C. with offices in Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, from 1997 to 2009. That law firm was the first in Alabama dedicated to serving the legal needs of seniors.
Carol J. Wallace

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About Carol J. Wallace

Carol Wallace has dedicated her career to serving the legal needs of seniors. Carol practiced many years in Alabama before relocating to Florida in 2008. She is certified as an elder law attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation in 1996. She was the first attorney in Alabama with this distinction.

Carol was a partner in the Elder Law Firm of Glass & Wallace, P.C. with offices in Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, from 1997 to 2009. That law firm was the first in Alabama dedicated to serving the legal needs of seniors.