Florida Advance Directives – Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Living Wills
LIVING WILLS AND HEALTH CARE ADVANCE DIRECTIVES: FAQs
The Florida Legislature has recognized that every competent adult has the fundamental right of self-determination regarding decisions pertaining to his or her own health, including the right to choose or refuse medical treatment or procedures which would only prolong life when a terminal condition exists. This right, however, is subject to certain interests of society, such as the protection of human life and the preservation of ethical standards in the medical profession. To ensure that this right is not lost or diminished by virtue of later physical or mental incapacity, the Legislature has established a procedure within Florida Statutes Chapter 765 allowing a person to plan for incapacity, and if desired, to designate another person to act on his or her behalf and make necessary medical decisions upon such incapacity.
If you need assistance from a Jacksonville elder law attorney or a Florida estate planning lawyer with the preparation of legally effective advance directives, including a medical or health care durable power of attorney, a designation of health care surrogate, or a living will, please contact your Jacksonville elder law attorney and estate planning lawyer for advance directives by calling 448-1969, toll free at 866-510-9099, or email your Jacksonville lawyer at Info@TheColemanLawFirm.net.
After you have reviewed the information contained on this page, you may want to evaluate whether you desire to use the bare bones Florida Statutory Living Will or the bare bones Florida Statutory Designation of Health Care Surrogate. If you determine that the bare bones Florida Statutory Living Will is adequate for your purposes, we have provided for you a free download of the Florida Statutory Living Will. If you also determine that the bare bones Florida Statutory Designation of Health Care Surrogate is adequate for your purposes, we have provided for you a free downloadable copy of the Florida Statutory Designation of Health Care Surrogate (health care power of attorney). Before you decide on either the free Florida Statutory Living Will form or the free Florida Designation of Health Care Surrogate form, please carefully review the materials on this page, as well as the materials at the links below.
1. What is a Living Will?
Every competent adult has the right to make a written declaration commonly known as a “Living Will.” The purpose of this legal document is to direct the provision, the withholding or withdrawal of life prolonging procedures in the event one should have a terminal condition or vegetative state. The suggested Florida legal form for this instrument has been provided by the Florida Legislature within Florida Statutes, Section 765.303. In Florida, the definition of “life prolonging procedures” has been expanded by the Legislature to include the provision of food and water to terminally ill patients. One is not restricted to the use of the legal form provided by statute, but can expand or limit the coverage of the statutory legal forms. An experienced Jacksonville estate planning attorney or Florida elder law attorney can assist you in preparing an advance directive that is broader or more narrow than the statutorily provided legal forms (whether living will or health care power of attorney). If you need a Florida living will please call us toll free at 1-866-510-9099 to schedule an appointment to review your needs and desires.
2. What is the difference between a Living Will and a legal will?
A Living Will should not be confused with a person’s legal will (commonly referred to as a Last Will and Testament), which disposes of personal property on or after his or her death, and appoints a personal representative or revokes or revises another will and is usually drafted by a Florida wills lawyer.
3. How do I make my Living Will effective?
Under Florida law, a Living Will must be signed by its maker in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is neither the spouse nor a blood relative of the maker. If the maker is physically unable to sign the Living Will, one of the witnesses can sign in the presence and at the direction of the maker. Florida will recognize a Living Will, which has been signed in another state, if that Living Will was signed in compliance with the laws of that state, or in compliance with the laws of Florida. If you have questions about whether your living will is valid in Florida, please call us toll free at 1-866-510-9099.
4. After I sign a Living Will, what is next?
Once a Living Will has been signed, it is the maker’s responsibility to provide notification to the physician of its existence. It is a good idea to provide a copy of the Living Will to the maker’s physician and hospital, to be placed within the medical records. The Coleman Law Firm, since 2002, maintains and electronic file containing all of its clients’ advance directives, including the living will, and can provide those legal documents via fax or email at anytime during normal working hours. There are a number of national services that provide for the electronic storage of your living will and other advance directives, usually for a small fee. These services will provide copies of your living will, or other advance directives 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by fax, email, or regular mail. Among the companies providing such services are: DocuBank, the National Register of Living Wills, and the U.S Living Will Registry. Many individual State governments have also established a living will registry designed for residents of the State. Some lawyers provide storage for advance directives they have prepared for their clients. The Coleman Law Firm maintains advance directives that can be obtained upon request by either email or facsimile transmission, as well as the US Postal Service.
5. What is a Health Care Surrogate?
Any competent adult may also designate an advance directive with 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 and communicating 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. If you need only a health care power of attorney or designation of health care surrogate, you can prepare our suggested legal form for a health care power of attorney, or Designation of Health Care Surrogate
, online right now, pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 765.203. If you need a Florida elder law attorney or Jacksonville estate planning lawyer to assist you with a designation of health care surrogate, please call us toll free at 1-866-510-9099.
6. How do I designate a Health Care Surrogate?
Under Florida law, designation of a Health Care Surrogate (health care power of attorney) should be made through an advance directive with a written legal form 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 the health care Surrogate cannot act as a witness to the signing of the document. A health care power of attorney can be notarized, but notarization is not mandatory.
7. Can I have more than one Health Care Surrogate?
The maker can also explicitly designate an Alternate Surrogate in the health care power of attorney, or Designation of Health Care 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 health care power of attorney document. An exact copy of the designation of health care surrogate must be provided to the Health Care Surrogate. Unless the designation states a time of termination, the designation of health care surrogate will remain in effect until revoked by its maker.
8. Can the Living Will and the Health Care Surrogate designation be revoked?
Both the Living Will and the Designation of Health Care Surrogate (health care power of attorney) 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 and Designation of Health Care Surrogate have been revoked.
9. Where can I go to obtain legal advice on this issue?
Do all attorneys practice elder law?
If you need legal advice regarding advance directives for health care, either a living will or a designation of health care surrogate (health care power of attorney), please call your Jacksonville lawyer for advance directives, the estate planning lawyers and elder law attorneys at the Coleman Law Firm at 904-448-1969 or toll free at 1-866-510-9099, or email us at info@TheColemanLawFirm.com.