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What are Florida's laws for living wills?

Some people in Winter Haven and Lakeland may have heard the term living will before. In a prior post, this blog briefly discussed some of the basic ideas of a living will. But, this estate planning tool has different nuances depending upon the state where the person lives. So what are Florida's laws that pertain to living wills?

A living will is a type of advance directive, and it is covered under Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes. An advance directive is a written or oral declaration that directs others regarding the person's medical decisions if that person suffers incapacitation. A living will, in particular, is a way for the person to detail exactly the types of medical care that they would want in the event that they are unable to make these decisions for themselves in the future.

Florida law is set up to allow competent adults to direct their physician, in advance, regarding the medical treatments that they would want, including whether the physician should provide life-prolonging procedures. The living will is so named because it becomes effective while the person is still alive.

Sections of the Florida Administrative Code require hospitals and other health care facilities to provide their patients with information about a living will and other advance directives. But just understanding and even creating a living will is not enough. The person must make sure that their health care providers and family members know about it, and they should also have a copy of the document.

Like any other legal instrument, anyone who chooses to create a living will should be sure to execute a legally enforceable one. Under Florida law, for example, all advance directives must be witnessed by two people, at least one of whom cannot be a spouse or blood relative. Also, once a person creates a living will, Florida law allows them to change it at any time. But again, the person should sign and date the changes to their living will so that they will be legally enforceable.

Living wills can be an important planning tool for people who have particular wants regarding their future health care. An experienced estate and will administration attorney can help people in Florida address all issues related to living wills and other health care advance directives.

Source: FloridaHealthFinder.gov, "Health Care Advance Directives," Accessed on June 8, 2016

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