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What is a Healthcare Proxy?

Loved One Passing Away

For a loved one who is aging, or in poor health, a healthcare proxy can be an important thing. That being said, it’s also somewhat confusing, and not everyone knows what it means, or what a healthcare proxy does. We will try to explain all of that and more, as we delve into what a healthcare proxy is, why they are named, and how you can handle it. 

The Duties of a Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare surrogate is someone the incapacitated person has named to make healthcare decisions for them, usually as part of a living will. A healthcare surrogate should be someone who is strong enough to follow through with your wishes, even when it is extremely difficult to do so. 

Essentially, the duties of a healthcare proxy are to make decisions on a loved one’s healthcare should they become incapacitated, and unable to make decisions on their own. 

Who Can Become a Healthcare Proxy?

While some people may plan for future health issues in the form of a surrogate, many do not, and that is where Florida law allows the naming of a proxy in order to make serious decisions. Who can become a proxy? Here is what the law says:

“(a) The judicially appointed guardian of the patient or the guardian advocate of the person having a developmental disability as defined in s. 393.063, who has been authorized to consent to medical treatment, if such guardian has previously been appointed; however, this paragraph shall not be construed to require such appointment before a treatment decision can be made under this subsection;

(b) The patient’s spouse;

(c) An adult child of the patient, or if the patient has more than one adult child, a majority of the adult children who are reasonably available for consultation;

(d) A parent of the patient;

(e) The adult sibling of the patient or, if the patient has more than one sibling, a majority of the adult siblings who are reasonably available for consultation;

(f) An adult relative of the patient who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who has maintained regular contact with the patient and who is familiar with the patient’s activities, health, and religious or moral beliefs; or

(g) A close friend of the patient.”

Here is an example of how this would work in theory. Say for instance, that your mother gets sick and falls into a coma. She is single, but has three kids, you and your siblings. If she did not plan for this through an advanced directive, you and your siblings would then become your mother’s healthcare proxy, under Florida law. Majority rule on what you and your siblings decide would then be carried out. 

Consult with an Elder Law Attorney at The Mattar Firm

Speaking with an experienced elder law attorney at The Mattar Firm well before a situation such as the one described above can ensure that there is a surrogate plan in place and approved by your loved one. In terms of financial decisions, the role of healthcare proxy does not grant authority to make any financial decisions for the incapacitated person.

Again, as mentioned above, speaking with an experienced elder law attorney at The Mattar Firm about a healthcare proxy will help to answer those questions before they come up. It can be uncomfortable to talk with an elder law attorney about your own incapacitation, but at the end of the day, determining who will fill what role ahead of time, and what decisions they will make is beneficial both to yourself and your family. Once it’s done, you’ll rest better knowing that you made the right decisions for yourself and your family.

At The Mattar Firm, our experienced elder law attorneys can guide you through the healthcare proxy process. Contact our elder law attorneys today at 239-222-2222.


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