Even the healthiest people may eventually develop a medical condition or illness that prevents them from caring for themselves. That is why it is so important to prepare for this possibility by choosing someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to make them yourself.
A medical or health care power of attorney allows Florida adults to choose an agent to make medical decisions for them if they ever become incapacitated. To make this official, you will need to draft a written document that includes the name of your designated surrogate and specifies how much power your agent will have when the time comes. Your POA must be signed by two competent witnesses who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind and notarized.
What decisions will my agent be allowed to make?
Some people decide to allow their agent to have full decision-making power when it comes to their health care. Others will limit the power by only allowing their agent to decide on certain matters, including end-of-life care. Your health care agent may have to decide the following on your behalf:
- Whether to accept or refuse certain medical treatments.
- Whether to accept resuscitation and life-sustaining measures (e.g., ventilation).
- Which forms of palliative care to accept.
- Whether to donate organs and tissues.
In Florida, the person you choose as your health care agent must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. You should choose someone you trust will respect your wishes and make the decisions you would make if you were able to speak for yourself.
You may also choose an alternate surrogate, if your first choice is unwilling or unable to serve when needed. If you need assistance at any point during the process, an attorney specializing in estate planning can help. Your attorney can make sure your POA form is filed correctly and includes all the necessary information.