What is a Living Will?
Every competent adult has the right to make a written declaration commonly known as a “Living Will.” The purpose of this document is to direct the provision, the withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging procedures in the event one should have a terminal condition. The suggested form of this instrument has been provided by the Legislature within Florida Statutes Section 765.303. In Florida, the definition of “life prolonging procedures” has been expanded by the Legislature to include the provision of food and water to terminally ill patients.
What is the difference between a Living Will and a legal will?
A Living Will should not be confused with a person’s legal will, which disposes of personal property on or after his or her death, and appoints a personal representative or revokes or revises another will. How do
I make my Living Will effective?
Under Florida law, a Living Will must be signed by its maker in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is neither the spouse nor a blood relative of the maker. If the maker is physically unable to sign the Living Will, one of the witnesses can sign in the presence and at the direction of the maker. Florida will recognize a Living Will, which has been signed in another state, if that Living Will was signed in compliance with the laws of that state, or in compliance with the laws of Florida.
After I sign a Living Will, what is next?
Once a Living Will has been signed, it is the maker’s responsibility to provide notification to the physician of its existence. It is a good idea to provide a copy of the Living Will to the maker’s physician and hospital, to be placed within the medical records.
What is a Health Care Surrogate?
Any competent adult may also designate authority to a Health Care Surrogate to make all health care decisions during any period of incapacity. During the maker’s incapacity, the Health Care Surrogate has the duty to consult expeditiously, with appropriate health care providers. The Surrogate also provides informed consent and makes only health care decisions for the maker, which he or she believes the maker would have made under the circumstances if the maker were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what the maker would have chosen, the Surrogate may consider the maker’s best interest in deciding on a course of treatment. The suggested form of this instrument has been provided by the Legislature within Florida Statutes Section 765.203.
How do I designate a Health Care Surrogate?
Under Florida law, designation of a Health Care Surrogate should be made through a written document, and should be signed in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is neither the spouse nor a blood relative of the maker. The person designated as Surrogate cannot act as a witness to the signing of the document.