J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Living wills can be part of a Florida estate plan

A good estate plan for a Florida resident can consist of one or more documents. Estate plans can include wills, trusts and other vehicles for transferring assets. However, estate administration may not be the only consideration. Many people are also concerned about what happens if they are diagnosed with a terminal condition, diagnosed with an end-stage condition or are in a persistent vegetative state. Living wills are the documents meant to deal with such situations.

Any competent adult in Florida is allowed to make a living will. In order for the living will to be valid, it must be signed by the person making the living will and witnessed by two individuals. One of the witnesses must be someone other than a spouse or blood relative of the maker. If the maker is unable to sign the living will document, one of the witnesses should sign the maker's name at the direction of the maker. Florida provides a form that the living will maker can use to make their wishes known. The maker can use the form, but is not necessarily limited to the form.

The living will applies if the maker is both incapacitated and either in a terminal condition, an end-stage condition or a persistent vegetative state. The maker of the living will should provide for the notification of the attending or treating physician of the existence of the living will. Any other person may notify the physician of the existence of the will if the maker is incapacitated.

A living will maker can provide directions to medical staff through the living will as to what the maker would like done if conditions triggering the operation of the living will come about. These decisions can be major ones, and living will makers should discuss them with family as well as putting them in the living will.

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