J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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What is the purpose of a living will?

Thinking about retirement or the protection of your wishes in a medical emergency is important. In the state of Florida, this can mean a variety of different options for making preferences clear and making sure that they are upheld in a way that meets your wishes. The legal backing for a living will can help someone have a customizable legal preference for their own healthcare.

A living will, as defined by Findlaw.com, is a legal document that expresses the wishes and preferences of someone should they become unable to communicate because of a terminal illness or degenerative disease. A living will can put forth preferences from resuscitation to preferences on other medical care should someone become unresponsive.

A living will can let healthcare providers know what operations and procedures someone would wish to have if they are uncommunicative. It also provides a framework for the family to make decisions based on the wishes of a loved one. A living will doesn't take effect until someone is determined to be unable to convey that person's wishes. This likely involves a permanent vegetative state or terminal illness. Certain medical choices or wishes, like the desire for a natural death or not electing for invasive surgeries, can be written into the living will.

A living will can be used in all states, but some have specific formalities that need to be followed. It's important to be up-to-date on the applicable Florida laws, especially if someone has clear medical directives for their options. The living will bind health care providers to the instructions set forth, so it is important for people to set one up when they are of sound mind.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Living Wills," Accessed on July 27, 2014

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