In an ideal world, every person in Florida would have a full estate plan in place complete with the identification of a power of attorney and a health proxy. This can be whether trusts or wills are used in estate planning and can be invaluable to family members when a crisis occurs. However, this has not always been done. There can also be situations in which a health proxy has been named but is not available when needed. This many situations in which alternate ways of making critical health decisions on the part of someone else must be found.
According to the Florida Legislature, this can be done through the appointment by a court of a guardian. Without this, the next person considered eligible to act as the health proxy would be the patient’s spouse. Next in line would be one or more of the patients’ adult children followed by the patient’s parent. Siblings, other relatives, and even close friends can also be considered if need be. Barring any of these people being available and appropriate, a clinical social worker may act in this role.
Regardless of whom the proxy is full informed consent to that person is required in order for them to make healthcare decisions. Especially in cases involving the prolonging of life or cessation of efforts to do so, the decisions should be in line with those that the patient would have made on his or her own. If that is not possible, decisions must be shown to be in the patient’s best interests.
This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about how the identification of a health proxy in Florida.