If you are a person of more than 18 years old and you live in Florida, Federal and state law gives you the right to make your healthcare decisions yourself. You have every right to decide and accept or reject a particular medical care treatment. You can hand over the responsibility of deciding on the right medical treatment and other medical decisions to another person. This handing over of your responsibility will help when you are not in a position to decide on these things due to age and other factors. This is where Advance Directives come into play. What are they, and how can they be beneficial to you? As your Estate Planning & Probate Attorney, we would like to give answers to these questions here:
What Is an Advance Directive?
An Advance Directive is an oral or written statement. This statement will explain how you want your medical decisions to be made when you become incapable of arriving at these decisions yourself. Otherwise, this document can also express your desire to denote your body parts after your demise. Some people choose to create advance directives when they find that they have a life-threatening illness. However, some people put their desires in written form when they are healthy. They do this as a part of their estate planning.
Some Tips for Advanced Care Planning:
When it comes to thinking about advanced care planning, it creates fear and strong emotions naturally. Nevertheless, when you take this proactive step, it will help with achieving clarity, particularly when you are in a medical crisis. In this situation, your stress and emotion levels will be high. So, you cannot decide on things. But, when you have a person with real love and care for you to decide on your behalf, it will help. When you have decided to create advance directives, the tips below will help you:
- Get it in writing: Of course, you can get help from your estate planning attorney when you engage in this planning. However, there are also tools that will help you with advanced care planning. The thing to remember here is that each of these tools operates differently. So, it would be better to try out a combination of tools. Only then you can make sure that your wishes are met with entirety.
- Involve your local hospice and doctor: When you take the case of hospice care experts, they are professionals in handling end-of-life discussions. Also, when you engage in advanced care planning, it would be good to have your family doctor near you.
- Make sure to begin the conversation early: It is better to make sure that you do not wait until a medical issue or crisis occurs. Starting to plan things early will help. Just because you are planning does not mean that you are going to face life-threatening health issues. So, start early so that you can plan things well.
What Will Happen If a Person Does Not Have Advance Directives?
Of course, a person without advance directives will get medical care. Nevertheless, there is a greater chance that the person will get more treatment or procedures done than what he wishes. Just in case a person does not have this document already written; doctors will leave the decision of medical treatment to the following people. They will do this only when the patient is not able to decide on the treatment option:
- Guardian of the person. It applies if a court has appointed a guardian with the authorization of making healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient
- His/her spouse
- An adult child. Otherwise, if the patient has more than one child, the person who spends more time with the patient during medical consultations
- Either of the parents of the patient
- An adult sister or brother. If more than one such people are available, the person who spends more time with the patient during medical consultations will be contacted
- Any other adult relative or friend of the patient, who has shown the utmost concern over the health of the patient. Also, the doctors will be interested in knowing that the person is aware of the health and religious practices of the patient.
Types of Advance Directives:
Advance directives are divided into three major types. Here are some details to know about these three types:
- Living Will: It is an oral or written statement that explains the type of medical care a person needs others to make when he is not in a position to decide. It gets this name because it gets into action when the person is still alive.
- Health care surrogate designation: This type of advance directive states a particular person to be your representative to make medical decisions on your behalf. It will come into the picture when you are unable to decide on a suitable medical treatment. In this document, you can provide instructions about any treatment you expect or do not want to take.
- Anatomical Donation: This type should be chosen when a person wishes to donate his body for medical or other purposes on his death. It can be for the donation of a particular or all organs or tissue to people in need. A person can indicate his choice of being an organ donor in his driving license or state identification card.
It is not a legal requirement in Florida that you should have advance directives. Nevertheless, when you have this document signed, you can ensure that a court-appointed guardian will decide on your behalf. The guardian can either be your spouse, son, daughter, an adult relative or a friend. The individual, whom you designate, should be aware of your desires. This will ensure that your wishes will be rightly carried forward even when you are not in a position to decide. At Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys at Law, we can help you with creating this document.