Advanced directives specify your medical treatment preferences if you cannot make these decisions yourself. One prevalent type of advanced directive is a Living Will. A Living Will is a legal document that dictates your wishes and desires for medical treatment if you are incapacitated, such as being terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state. Below, we discuss the benefits and purpose of creating a Living Will as a part of your comprehensive estate plan.
Purpose of a Living Will
The primary purpose of a Living Will is to express your preferences for medical treatment and end-of-life care. A Living Will ensures that your wishes are followed and gives you control over your medical decisions, even when you cannot express them directly. A Living Will also help family members (who may disagree about your medical care) clearly understand your intentions. In creating a Living Will, you take the burden of making life-altering medical decisions off your family members during a stressful time.
Elements of a Living Will
There are several situations you will want to address in your Living Will, including:
Preferences for Medical Treatments
It is vital to be as specific as possible in your Living Will, detailing the exact types of treatments you would like used if you become incapacitated. You can state your preferences regarding life-saving equipment and procedures such as ventilators, feeding tubes, dialysis machines, and CPR. You can also specify how long you would like to remain on life-support equipment before it is removed. Suppose you do not want to be resuscitated or incubated. In that case, it is also beneficial to create separate Do Not Resuscitate and Do Not Intubate orders to coincide with the statements in your Living Will.
Name a Health Care Surrogate
If you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated, you will want to appoint a healthcare surrogate to make medical decisions. They are the beneficial point-person and primary decision-makers regarding your medical care. In Florida, you can legally name a health care surrogate in a Living Will or create a separate advanced directive.
Your Living Will be the place to specify what types of pain-alleviating drugs or life- saving medication you would like to receive during a medical emergency. You can also select your preferences for hospice care or if you desire to avoid unwanted invasive procedures.
It would be best to acknowledge that you agree to be placed on life-support equipment until the transplant process for donation is complete. You can document your wishes in your Living Will to donate your organs. In this section, you can also state whether you want to donate your body for scientific research.
When Do Living Wills Go into Effect?
Living Wills are only legally valid when you are mentally and physically incapacitated. When a Living Will goes into effect, situations include when you are in an advanced terminal medical condition, in a consistent vegetative state, or brain dead.
How to Create a Living Will
Florida Statute 765.302 specifies the elements that must be included in a Living Will to be valid. Living Wills must be written documents signed by you (the creator) and two witnesses. One of the witnesses cannot be your spouse or a blood relative.
Wills and Estate Planning with Kathy D. Sheive
Kathy D. sheave is an experienced Estate Planning Attorney serving Osceola and Polk counties who can help you develop your comprehensive estate plan, such as creating a Living Will. Creating a Living Will has many benefits. Call our office at (407) 315-2268 to schedule a consultation.