Serious illness, incapacity, and/or end of life issues may bring financial complications and undue emotional hardships to you and your loved ones. Establishing with Welch Law Florida advance directives, special legal documents designed for illness, incapacity, and/or end of life care, can help limit frustration for you and your family. Advance directives name individuals that step into your shoes and act as your fiduciary to make financial and health care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so. In addition, your advance directives may limit the application of life-prolonging medical procedures when you are suffering from a terminal condition, end stage condition, or persistent vegetative state. Making these decisions while you are in control of your faculties can provide peace of mind for your loved ones and ease the burden of forcing them to make tough decisions on your behalf without your input.
Under state law, there are three types of Florida advance directive documents: a Power of Attorney; Living Will; and Designation of Health Care Surrogate.
Under Chapter 765, Florida Statutes, every Florida adult has the right to create advance health care directives instructing their attending physicians to provide, withhold, or withdraw life prolonging procedures and to appoint an agent to make medical care decisions when medical conditions such as dementia, coma, or Alzheimer’s disease render you incapacitated or unable to make health care decisions on your own.
Chapter 709, Florida Statutes, governs Florida Powers of Attorney and similar instruments.
A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that allows you to designate an agent that you would like to take care of your affairs. A Power of Attorney may be used to grant authority to trusted individuals or corporations to complete specific responsibilities with your best interests in mind. A Power of Attorney can allow your agent to make health care decisions, financial decision, and/or provide them with authority to conduct transactions on your behalf. A Limited Power of Attorney grants the agent the authority to complete one task, such as a home sale; a General Power of Attorney grants the agent broad authority to handle a variety of specific tasks named in the document, such as paying bills, investing money, and designating medical care; and a Durable Power of Attorney grants the agent to make decision on your behalf if you become incapacitated. The principal must sign the Florida Power of Attorney in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. Learn more in our article Florida Power of Attorney: The Second Most Powerful Estate Planning Document.
A Living Will is a formal declaration to doctors, other medical professionals and family members about the use of feeding tubes, respirators, and other life-prolonging procedures in the event that you have a terminal condition or become incapacitated. The principal must sign the Florida Living Will in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom is not a blood relative.
The third Florida advance directive, a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate is a legal declaration appointing another person to make medical decisions for another who has become legally incompetent or incapacitated. The surrogate has authority to consult with doctors and give consent for the performance of medical procedures that the surrogate believes the principal would have agreed to under the circumstances. The healthcare surrogate requires two witnesses, excluding a spouse or blood relative; the surrogate may not serve as one of the witnesses.
For help with Advance Directives, book a call with attorney Edward Welch.
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