The Parri Law Firm
Elder Law & Special Needs Planning
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The Florida Legislature has recognized that every competent adult has the fundamental right of self-determination regarding decisions pertaining to his or her own health, including the right to choose or refuse medical treatment or procedures which would only prolong life when a terminal condition exists. This right, however, is subject to certain interests of society, such as the protection of human life and the preservation of ethical standards in the medical profession. To ensure that this right is not lost or diminished by virtue of later physical or mental incapacity, the Legislature has established a procedure within Florida Statutes Chapter 765 allowing a person to plan for incapacity, and if desired, to designate another person to act on his or her behalf and make necessary medical decisions upon such incapacity.
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.
While it is not required that an attorney draft a living will, it is generally included with most attorneys basic estate plan. An attorney can help explain when exactly a living will is used. If you have more questions about Living Wills, please don't hesitate to call (727) 586-4224.