What is a Florida Living Will and Why Should You Have One?

What happens if you need medical care but you are unable to make decisions about the kind of care you would like or how that care should be administered?

It is common for people to want to make decisions regarding their medical care.  When someone is incapacitated, those decisions often fall to spouses or close relatives.  Sometimes the individual will have designated a health care surrogate.

For people who are uncomfortable with the idea of others making decisions for them, there is a legal route that they can take to ensure that their wishes are followed.  

 

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a statement about your desired medical decisions if you are unable to make a decision due to incapacity.  Living Wills are called “advanced directives.” The Living Will, unlike a Last Will and Testament, is effective while the individual is still alive.  In a Living Will, the individual provides for the type of medical care that they want or do not want.  

One example of a provision typically included in a Living Will is “Do Not Resuscitate.”  In instances where the individual is incapable of making a medical decision, if there is a question of whether to resuscitate them, the medical provider would follow the instruction in the Living Will.  Many people will include decisions about life support or maintenance in their Living Will.  

Sometimes people will have both a Living Will and designate someone to make medical decisions for them.  In the case that the two conflict it is important to make sure that an attorney helps you make clear which document will prevail.  

It is a common misconception that a Living Will is the document that devises your property after you pass away.  That document is called your Last Will and Testament. However, a Living Will is a separate legal document from your “Will” and is only about your wishes for medical care.  The Living Will is an essential component of an estate plan.  

Florida also has certain requirements for the language and execution of Advanced Health Directives, such as a Living Will.  While there may be some forms online, it is important to check that your documents meet the legal requirements under Florida law.  For example, it is important to have sign your Living Will in the presence of two witnesses and a notary.  

To ensure that your decisions related to medical care are carried out according to your wishes, contact an experienced attorney to help you draft and execute your Living Will. 

 

Why Should You Have A Living Will?

The best answer to this question is that a Living Will helps provide you with peace of mind.  Many people just want to know that their medical decisions will be carried out according to their wishes. 

A Living Will is only used in the unfortunate event that you are unable to make your own health care decisions.  If you are able to communicate your wishes with the medical provider, the Living Will is not used. 

It is important to have an attorney help you draft the appropriate language so that you ensure your wishes are carried out.  Although we hope that your Living Will will not be necessary, it is essential to have a legal document outlining your wishes.  In addition to the Living Will, designating someone as a Health Care Surrogate is another way of ensuring your wishes are carried out. 

If you have any questions about drafting your Living Will or want to know more about the essentials of an estate plan, call The Probate Law Firm at (305) 456-3255.  We are here to help figure out the best options for you.

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