Every adult in Florida has the right to make decisions concerning his or her own health, including the right to choose or refuse medical treatment. Florida recognizes several types of advanced healthcare directives that are designed to carry out your expressed wishes regarding medical care should you become incapacitated. These documents instruct your physician to provide, withhold, or withdraw life-prolonging procedures; to designate someone else of your choosing to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to; and/or express the desire to make an anatomical donation after your death.
A living will is a written document drafted to instruct and direct the withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging procedures should the event of a terminal medical condition. Florida law considers providing food and water to a terminally ill patient as a “life prolonging procedure”.
How does a Living Will become effective?
Florida law requires a Living Will to signed by individual in the presence of two witnesses. At least one of the witnesses must not be related to the maker by either blood or current marriage.
What if the signer is unable to sign?
Under Florida law, if the maker is physically unable to sign the Living Will, one of the two witnesses can sign in the presence and at the direction of the maker.
What if my Living Will is from another state?
As long as the laws of the state were followed where the Living Will was created, Florida will recognize the Living Will and its provisions. Florida will also recognize Living Wills created and signed in another state that adhere to the laws governing Living Wills in Florida.
What happens after I sign my Living Will?
It is the maker’s responsibility to notify his or her doctor of the existence of a Living Will and to provide the doctor with a copy. It is also recommended to provide a copy the hospital to be placed in the signer’s medical records.
Can the Living Will designation be revoked?
A Living Will may be revoked by the maker at any time by a signed and dated letter of revocation; by physically canceling or destroying the original document; by an oral expression of one’s intent to revoke; or by means of a later executed document which is materially different from the former document. It is very important to tell the attending physician that the Living Will has been revoked.
Health Care Surrogate
Any competent adult may also designate authority to a Health Care Surrogate to make all health care decisions during any period of incapacity. During the maker’s incapacity, the Health Care Surrogate has the duty to consult expeditiously, with appropriate health care providers. The Surrogate also provides informed consent and makes only health care decisions for the maker, which he or she believes the maker would have made under the circumstances if the maker were capable of making such decisions. If there is no indication of what the maker would have chosen, the Surrogate may consider the maker’s best interest in deciding on a course of treatment.
How do I designate a Health Care Surrogate?
Under Florida law, designation of a Health Care Surrogate should be made through a written document, and should be signed in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is neither the spouse nor a blood relative of the maker. The person designated as Surrogate cannot act as a witness to the signing of the document.
Can I have more than one Health Care Surrogate?
The maker can also explicitly designate an Alternate Surrogate. The Alternate Surrogate may assume the duties as Surrogate if the original Surrogate is unwilling or unable to perform his or her duties. If the maker is physically unable to sign the designation, he or she may, in the presence of witnesses, direct that another person sign the document. An exact copy of the designation must be provided to the Health Care Surrogate. Unless the designation states a time of termination, the designation will remain in effect until revoked by its maker.
Can the Health Care Surrogate designation be revoked?
Yes. The Designation of Health Care Surrogate may be revoked by the maker at any time by a signed and dated letter of revocation; by physically canceling or destroying the original document; by an oral expression of one’s intent to revoke; or by means of a later executed document which is materially different from the former document. It is very important to tell the attending physician that the Designation of Health Care Surrogate has been revoked.
Contact Tilden Law to discuss your particular Health Care Planning needs, 407-599-1234.