Advance directives are valuable legal documents in which a person provides detailed instructions regarding personal healthcare preferences if he or she is no longer able to handle them. In this article, you will find out the types of advance directives and why one should use them.
What is a Florida Advance Directive? – The Essentials
A living will is a legal document used by a person to describe what should be done in the event he or she is no longer able to express informed consent on health care decisions.
In most cases, a living will applies to situations involving end-of-life care and life-prolonging treatments, such as a persistent vegetative state or a terminal or end-state medical condition.
In Florida, a valid living will must be properly executed and witnessed. When signing the document, one of the witnesses cannot be a blood relative or spouse of the person preparing the document.
Having a living will in place in the event you can no longer handle your own medical decisions relieves your loved ones from stressful decisions, such as whether to approve, maintain or terminate a specific life-sustaining treatment.
Upon executing a living will, you must notify physicians and family about the document’s existence. Also, it is important to send copies to your most trusted loved ones while keeping the original copy accessible in a safe place.
Health Care Surrogate Designation
A designation of health care surrogate permits you to designate a third party to handle medical decisions on your behalf in the event of temporary or permanent incapacitation. Hence, if you cannot express yourself regarding medical treatment, the health care surrogate will decide on your behalf.
Health care surrogate designations may be applied not only in cases involving severe medical conditions. For example, a person going through post-surgery recovery and living under heavy medication may use a temporary health care surrogate designation.
When preparing the document, it is crucial to include language allowing the health care surrogate (and other designated individuals, if applicable) to receive confidential medical information on your behalf.
When someone is unable to exercise his or her own rights, and there are no advance directives in place, a Florida court may designate a guardian to exercise that person’s legal rights on his or her behalf.
However, it is possible to anticipate this type of situation. With the guidance of an expert attorney, you can draft a written document designating a “pre-need guardian.”
This document will designate a person to be named as your guardian in case of incapacitation or other situation in which you can no longer personally exercise your rights.
Although the court is not obligated to appoint the person named as “pre-guardian” in specific circumstances, there is a legal presumption that the individual (or entity) appointed in the document should serve to fulfill the role.
Do Not Resuscitate Order
As its name suggests, a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNRO) is a legal document indicating that you should not receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest.
A DNRO is a medical order written by a doctor. Hence, only a licensed physician may sign the document with you or a designated health care surrogate. As emergency medical technicians are duty-bound to administer CPR, they must check this document before withholding resuscitation.