Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Law Blog

Health Care Planning For Unmarried Couples

Protecting Your Health Care Choices: Importance of Health Care Planning for Unmarried Couples

By Cynthia Jackson, Esq.

Picture this. You are in a long term, monogamous relationship in which you are totally committed to your partner, but you are not legally married in Florida. You and your partner are in a terrible automobile accident. Your partner is unconscious and unable to make medical decisions. You, as his partner, feel that you know intimately what he would want and the decisions he would make. You are stunned when the hospital will not even let you in his room and the doctor will give you little information on his condition, much less allow you to make medical decisions for him. The hospital calls his sister, to whom your partner has barely spoken in 15 years, to direct his health care. You are left at home alone, worried about your partner, unable to represent his point of view.

This may sound unduly melodramatic. Rest assured, however, that as an unmarried life partner, it is very realistic. Without proper documentation, you have no legal rights whatsoever to direct your partner’s health care if he should become unable to do so himself.

The sad part of this scenario is that it is so easily and inexpensively prevented. Florida Statutes Sections 765.201-205 allow an individual to appoint a surrogate to make health care decisions for him if he is unable to make them for himself. A health care surrogate designation is a simple document in which one competent adult appoints another as his surrogate to make health care decisions if he is unable to make them himself. The document should be properly witnessed and should be made a part of your permanent medical file. It will allow your partner not only to make decisions for your health care, but also to consult with all of your care providers so that your partner can make informed decisions. It allows your partner access to your medical records, authority to apply for benefits on your behalf and the ability to check you into or out of a facility.

Take steps to make sure that if such a situation happens, your life partner is in a position to direct your health care.

            The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this article without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.

            The views expressed at, or through, this site are those of the author writing in their individual capacity only – not those of Scott-Harris as a whole. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. The content on this posting is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

Click to access the login or register cheese
x  Powerful Protection for WordPress, from Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
WebPro360 Shield