Managing the logistics of death can be an overwhelming task, especially when you’re still alive and well. However, carving out time to organize your living will and advance directives is a small effort now that can save a lot of effort in the future.
Trying to understand the legal jargon and details of living wills and advance directives can cause you to delay any action. When drafting a living will, an experienced estate planning attorney who is familiar with Florida law can help navigate the task.
To kick off your research, we’ve put together a few frequently asked questions about living wills and advance directives for Florida residents.
What Is a Living Will and Advanced Directive?
Did you know that Florida residents have a right to self-determination with regard to health-related decisions?
For example, you can refuse medical treatments that prolong life, even when struggling with a terminal illness. A living will and advanced directive give you the power to control the health decisions in your future, even if you’re not physically able to do so yourself.
A living will is a legally binding, written instruction that outlines your wishes about future medical treatments in the unfortunate circumstance that you are unable to communicate your wishes yourself.
Additionally, a living will is an example of an advance directive. There are different types of advanced directives, including a living will, a designated health care surrogate, and durable power of attorney. An advanced directive gives authority to a surrogate decision-maker in the instance that a medical decision needs to be made and you’re unable to make it yourself.
FAQs About Living Wills and Advanced Directives
It’s important to understand the definition of a living will as well as how it works. Having the confidence to hand over the authority to make life-changing medical decisions demands a deeper understanding of the process.
Let’s explore a few frequently asked questions pertaining to living wills.
What Is the Difference Between a Living Will and Legal Will?
A living will strictly outlines an individual’s medical wishes, and should not be confused with a last will and testament. A will is a document that determines how assets and personal property should be distributed after death. The living will is a document that staes you rend of life wishes if you have a terminal illness, are in a vegetative state and the only thing the doctors can do is prolong the dying process. You appoint someone to make the final decision in the event that you cannot communicate your wishes at the time of need.
The services of an estate planning attorney are especially useful when drafting a legal will.
What Are the Legal Requirements for a Living Will in Florida?
The legal requirements for a living will deviates slightly from one state to another. In Florida, certain criteria need to be met in order for the living will to be effective.
Consider the following as a starting point:
- The living will must be signed by its maker in front of two witnesses
- The witnesses should be someone other than a spouse or a blood relative
- The person designated as the surrogate cannot be one of the witnesses
- Florida law will recognize a living will signed in another state on the condition that it was signed in compliance with the laws of Florida
Who Has the Responsibility to Update All Parties?
Once the living will has been signed, the maker can rest easy knowing that their medical wishes will be upheld if needed. However, it is also the maker’s responsibility to alert a physician and provide a copy of the living will to the physician and hospital to be kept with the medical records.
What Is the Role of a Health Care Surrogate?
The responsibilities of a health care surrogate are outlined in the living will, describing the authority that a competent adult holds in the instance of incapacity. The decision could pertain to the likes of organ donation, surgical and medical treatments, end-of-life procedures, releasing medical records, and psychiatric treatment among other areas.
Keep in mind that it’s possible to have more than one health care surrogate on the condition that an alternate surrogate is explicitly designated.
Is It Possible to Revoke a Living Will and Health Care Surrogate?
The maker has the right to revoke the living will and the designation of health care surrogate at any time. All that is required is a signed and dated letter of revocation or any of the following revocation methods.
- Physically destroying or canceling the original document
- An oral expression of one’s intent to revoke
- Executing a later document that is different from the previous document
Legal tip: It’s important to update the physician of any change to the living will.
Is It Necessary to Hire an Attorney?
It’s possible to draw up a living will on your own, however, it’s recommended to have a lawyer guide you on the process of drafting a living will. In addition, an advance directive should also consider professional medical advice and counseling.
Find An Experienced Living Wills Attorney in Coral Springs
Our professional team is experienced in state and federal guidelines and has confidently provided legal services to Florida citizens, including assistance with drafting living wills. Call us at 954-796-9600 to find out more and schedule a legal consultation with Gary I. Handin, P.A., in-person or over the phone.