Effective October 1, 2015, Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes entitled “Health Care Advance Directives” has been amended in two profound ways.

First, the new law permits the designation of a Health Care Surrogate who can make decisions even if the person giving the power is NOT INCAPACITATED.

Second, a designation of Health Care Surrogate for a minor has been codified. What effect does this new law have on you?

I’m thinking it through and solicit your thoughts and input. Certainly, the new law provides welcome flexibility. Florida Statute 765.202 now says: (6) A principal may stipulate in the document that the authority of the surrogate to receive health information or make health care decisions or both is exercisable immediately without the necessity for a determination of incapacity as provided in s. 765.204.

Previously, health care decision-making authority only could be exercised by your surrogate if you no longer were capable of speaking for yourself. Many people might be comfortable leaving well enough alone. But I see a potential benefit of providing this power so that our clients’ disability panels can better carry out their function. This is a topic we will be discussing in more detail with our clients who are members of our LifeLegacy Program at our annual client meetings in the spring of next year.

For those of you who have minor children, Florida Statutes previously did not provide a way to name a Health Care Surrogate for a minor. We typically have prepared a “Nomination of Temporary Guardians of Minor Children” to authorize someone to make medical decisions for clients’ minor children in their absence, which has worked well when needed. However, this new law provides uniformity and more certainty in situations where your child may be away at camp or you are temporarily unreachable on an out of town trip. We will be updating documents for our clients with minor children at this year’s client update program in the fall.

Would you feel more secure if your estate planning documents were updated on a regular basis to take into account new or changed laws? Find out how by attending one of our upcoming “Truth About Estate Planning” workshops.

Image courtesy of Naypong / freedigitalphotos.net

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