To protect your health care and post-death wishes, you must know correctly how to plan advance directives in Florida.
Thankfully, the process is relatively simple but care should always be taken to avoid mistakes that could leave the documents open for misinterpretation or being deemed void.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can plan advance directives in Florida and answer frequently asked questions:
How Can I Plan Advance Directives in Florida?
- To plan advance directives in Florida, you must complete a document or record an oral statement that is witnessed by two individuals.
- At least one witness must not be a spouse or blood relative.
- When planning for advance directives, you should first consider the weight of your decisions. These can have a big impact on your life and your loved ones. Make a list of your priorities and consider how these can be achieved.
- Before selecting a healthcare proxy, always ask the individual to be sure they are ready and willing to take the responsibility.
- There are various advance directive templates available online. However, these may overlook areas of your health, specific to you, which could be disastrous if unaddressed.
- An estate planning attorney can draft one specific to your needs. Contact our Florida advance directives attorneys today to get started.
What Should I Do With My Advance Directive Documents?
Once you’ve created, signed, and planned advance directives in Florida, you should:
- Give your selected health care proxy a copy of the document(s).
- Notify your healthcare provider, family, attorney and other significant people in your life that you have created an advance directive and inform them of the storage location. You can also give them a copy.
- Keep a copy of your advance directive documents in a safe location. For example, many people store the original in a safety deposit box with another copy at their home.
- Create and store a note in your wallet or purse that declares you have an advance directive and how it can be located.
- Consider reviewing your decisions every few years or after any serious medical diagnosis.
- If you have any questions or concerns, speak to a Florida advance directive attorney.
What Are Advance Directives?
Advance Directives are written or recorded statements that detail how an individual wants medical decisions to be made on their behalf should they become unable to do so themselves.
Many people will make advance directives as they get older or when diagnosed with a serious illness. However, they can and should be made at any age and are a common part of estate planning.
What Types of Advance Directives Are There?
There are three types of advance directives in Florida:
- Living wills
- Health care surrogate designations
- Anatomical donations
Living wills are written or recorded statements stating the type of medical care you want or do not want should you become unable to decide alone. For example, if you have an accident and are put into a coma, it can detail how you would like treatment to be handled.
A living will is active while you’re still living.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy (also called a ‘surrogate’, ‘durable power of attorney for health care’ or ‘medical power of attorney’) is a document that appoints another person to make medical decisions if you become unable to make them yourself. You can also include treatment instructions.
For example, if you’re unconscious your health care proxy can make medical decisions on your behalf.
Anatomical donations are documents that show your wishes to donate parts or all of your body after death. This may include organs and tissues that can be used in transplants for people in need or for training for health care workers.
Anatomical donations can be documented on your driver’s license, state ID card, uniform donor form or in a living will.
Do I Have to Have Advance Directives in Florida?
No, it is not legally required to have an advance directive in Florida. However, advance directives are highly advised. Without advance directives, decisions about health care may contradict what you’d really want and be made by someone you wouldn’t select personally.
For example, your child may have to make a health decision – which can be a big burden and emotional decision, that you may want to avoid by selecting a trusted close friend or relative instead.
Without an advance directive, your intentions will also be unknown. For example, treatment may be carried out in a way that you wouldn’t want.
Does an Attorney Have to Draft an Advance Directive in Florida?
There is no legal requirement to hire an attorney to plan advance directives in Florida. However, you may choose to consult one and it is highly advised.
Advance directives include life-changing decisions and statements. One mistake can lead to misinterpretation or invalidate the document.
As advance directive documents must also be witnessed by two individuals, it can be wise to hire an estate planning attorney for assistance while drafting the document, to review it and then be a witness.
What Should Be Included in an Advance Directive?
There are many things to think about when you plan advance directives. These include:
- If you want to use medical equipment such as ventilators or dialysis machines to keep you alive.
- Do not resuscitate orders (instructions not to receive CPR).
- If you want or don’t want fluids, foods or liquids delivered by tube or IV (if you are unable to eat or drink).
- Your requests for pain, nausea and other symptom treatment (also referred to as palliative care).
- Organ and body tissue donation wishes.
There may be many other factors to consider, especially if you have a medical diagnosis. By speaking to a Florida advance directive attorney, you can determine which directions should be covered to protect your wishes.
Does an Advance Directive Have to Be Notarized in Florida?
Advance directives in Florida do not have to be notarized.
If you are unable to sign the document, you should have someone sign it on your behalf and direction in the presence of yourself and two witnesses.
Can I Change My Mind After Creating Advance Directives in Florida?
Yes, you can change or cancel advance directives in Florida at any time. However, change must be written, dated and signed.
You may also physically destroy an advance directive or record an oral statement.
Contact a Florida Advance Directives Attorney
If you or a loved one want to plan advance directives in Florida then our Florida Advance Directives attorneys can help.
We can help guide you through the process and drafting of the documents and ensure your wishes remain valid.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can help you in any area of Estate Planning and Family Law.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.