How to Make a Living Will in Florida?
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How to Make a Living Will in Florida?

What are the requirements for making a Living Will in Florida? How are Living Wills different from other documents? This article outlines the purpose of Living Wills and the resources available to begin creating your own! Keep reading to learn more!

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It's difficult to think about end-of-life care, let alone talk about it with others. However, it's vital for you to articulate your values and what treatments you do or don't want if you can no longer communicate those opinions yourself. When you plan for the worst-case scenario now, you are sparing your loved ones from having to make decisions for you during a very stressful time. This improves your physician's ability to care for you and prevents disagreements between your family members if they can't agree with each other about your care.

Florida law allows for the creation of a Living Will form that outlines which treatments and interventions you would accept or decline. This article explains the law applicable to Living Wills in Florida. It also touches on the revocation of Living Wills and how they differ from other options, such as the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate.

What Are Advanced Directives?

Advance Directives are legal documents that explain your health care decisions in the event that you are unable to make such decisions for yourself. In Florida, these documents are covered by Florida Code Section 765.101, et. seq. A Florida Living Will is a statement outlining which medical care a person wants to accept or reject if the person is unable to make his or her own decisions.  

What Situations Are Covered by a Florida Living Will?

The Florida Living Will form refers to "life-prolonging acts." Florida law defines these acts as "Any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention which utilizes mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a spontaneous vital function and serves only to prolong the dying process of a patient in a terminal condition; this section does not include medications or medical procedures to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain."

What kind of situations does this cover? The use of artificial nutrition and hydration, mechanical respiration, pain relief, and antibiotics.  More specifically, the Living Will is triggered in situations when a person cannot communicate. For example, if the person is in a coma, has dementia or Alzheimer's disease, is unconscious, or is in a vegetative state. If you are in any of these scenarios, physicians would consider CPR to restart your heart, mechanical ventilation, which breathes for you, and tube feeding. In your Living Will, you can state which of these interventions you accept or reject. Kidney dialysis and organ, tissue, or other donations may also come up. These are not always easy topics to talk about, but the Living Will form can help you have these conversations with your loved ones to make sure that your medical providers act in accord with your wishes.

What is a Florida Designation of Healthcare Surrogate?

Florida also has another kind of Advanced Directive, the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate. A Designation of Healthcare Surrogate form names another person as a representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them for themselves. This is sometimes referred to as a Healthcare Power of Attorney. The primary difference between the Living Will and the Designation of Healthcare Surrogate is that the Living Will communicates your wishes directly to your doctors, whereas the Healthcare Surrogate form allows the person you appoint to communicate and make decisions on your behalf. The Florida legal code describes the appropriate text of the Healthcare Surrogate form in  Section 765.203, Fla Stat.

Is a Florida Living Will the Same as a DNRO?

No, a Do Not Resuscitate Order is not the same as a Living Will.  A Do Not Resuscitate Order, which is known as a DNRO, deals with a specific situation - the refusal of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of cardiac or pulmonary arrest. In Florida, a physician must sign and date the DNRO. The order then becomes part of the patient's treatment plan. A Florida DNRO is usually only written for people with a terminal illness or end-stage condition, or for those in a persistent vegetative state. On the other hand, Living Wills deals with more general end-of-life issues. 

Requirements for Making a Living Will in Florida

At the time the Living Will is drafted, signed and dated, the person making the Will must be legally competent and an adult over age 18. The Living Will document must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. At least one witness must not be a spouse nor a blood relative of the principal. Florida law doesn't require Living Wills to be notarized, but it is highly recommended. A notarized Living Will is more likely to be deemed authentic and will lead to fewer family disputes.

How is a Living Will Different From a Last Will and Testament?

A Last Will and Testament states how you want to distribute your property. It only takes effect when you pass away. A Living Will dictates your medical care. It only applies while you are still living.

Revoking a Florida Living Will

In Florida, you have the authority to cancel a living will at your discretion. You must sign and date a revocation statement to revoke a Florida Living Will. You can also physically destroy the document or otherwise express your intent to cancel it. You can also create a revised version - if you choose this option, make sure you sign and date the new document. Although Florida permits verbal revocation of a Living Will, this isn't the best method since it may create doubt about what you intended to do.  

Make a Florida Living Will in Minutes with FastWill

You can create a fully customized Living Will in Florida by using FastWill. Our system will explain what your choices are and will also help you sign and witness your Living Will. We also work with OnlineNotaryCenter to help you notarize your Living Will. Notarization is not required by Florida law, but it helps end disputes over your last wishes. By creating a Living Will when you make your estate plan, you and your loved ones will have greater peace of mind.

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