A living will is a document that sets forth your wishes concerning future medical treatment. This document can become necessary if you eventually find yourself incapacitated, whether through gradual illness or sudden injury, and unable to formulate or communicate your wishes at the time. Thus, many people create a living will as part of their planning for the future.
In addition to making a living will, you should also designate a trusted person to manage your health care. Commonly known as a power of attorney for health care, in Florida this document bears the name, "designation of health care surrogate."
What to include
Effective living wills and surrogate designations should contain an appropriate level of detail. You should be specific about the types of decisions you empower your surrogate to make. You should also set forth your wishes concerning life support, heroic measures and other types of medical treatment. Being clear reduces the chances that your surrogate and your treating physicians will misunderstand your directive.
Choosing a surrogate
Many people choose a close friend or relative for their surrogate. Look for someone who will have your best interests at heart and whose values and opinions align with your own, as issues concerning medical treatment can become very contentious.
You also need someone upon whom you can depend to adhere to your wishes strictly, even in the face of potential pressure from others. While surrogates do not have to reside in Florida, as a practical matter, your surrogate may need to be physically present to supervise your care.
For your living will to be valid, you must be over the age of 18 and mentally competent. You also need the signatures of two valid witnesses who saw you sign the will, one of whom should not be your spouse or blood relative. Your surrogate should not serve as a witness for this purpose. An oral will or revocation may be valid if made in front of witnesses, but generally, verbal statements can be more vulnerable to misinterpretation.
If you want to assure yourself of a valid and effective living will, a qualified attorney can assist you by drafting a document that reflects your wishes. Speak with your attorney at Korshak & Associates, P.A., at 407-680-1471 to learn about and guard against potentially contentious issues.