When people near the end of their life, many will want to retain some measure of control over their medical care. This is especially true for life support or medical care which prolongs life. In Florida, the best method of exerting this control is through a Florida living will.
While a very basic form is available for free online, a Florida estate planning attorney experienced with living wills can help you draft and finalize a living will that meets your needs and desires. While living wills are common, they are not simple. To avoid any potential pitfalls, you should consult with experienced counsel.
What are the Different Types of Life Support or Life-prolonging Care?
A living will is intended for patients who cannot communicate their own healthcare decisions because they are incapacitated. This incapacity could be the result of a stroke, coma, permanent vegetative state, or late-stage dementia, among many other possibilities. By signing a living will before the onset of any of these conditions, a person can make their wishes known regarding any life support or life-prolonging care they receive.
Some examples of life support or life-prolonging care that can be addressed in a living will include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Breathing tubes
- Feeding tubes
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Kidney dialysis
- Pain killers
- Palliative care
- Blood transfusions
Your living will can state that you do or do not wish for any life support or life-prolonging care, such as the above items, to be administered under certain circumstances. But what are those circumstances?
What Can My Florida Living Will Cover?
Through a living will, you can communicate with your physicians and caregivers regarding the life support and life-prolonging care you want. You can also state when you would refuse such support or care, and when you would want such support or care stopped.
Under Florida law, there are three main categories of conditions under which life-prolonging care may be withheld or withdrawn, pursuant to a living will. These categories are as follows:
Persistent Vegetative State: This is characterized by permanent and irreversible unconsciousness in which there is an absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind by you, with an inability to communicate or interact purposefully with others in the environment around you.
Terminal Condition: This refers to a condition caused by injury, disease, or illness from which there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery and which can be expected to cause death if not treated.
Irreversible End-Stage Condition: This is a condition caused by injury, disease, or illness that has resulted in severe and permanent deterioration, indicated by incapacity and complete physical dependency, for which treatment would be medically ineffective to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
In addition to life support measures and life-prolonging care, living wills can also address other items. These include the preservation of your personal dignity, ensuring you are cared for in the location of your choice, balancing the burdens and cost of your care against the burdens on your family, and any cultural or religious considerations.
While the stated goal that we started with is to maintain control, this is not always possible with the free, generic forms. More often than not, you do not have an opportunity to define what care you specifically deem to be life-prolonging, or the care you would like if diagnosed with dementia.
Consult with Experienced Counsel About Your Florida Living Will
If you are seeking to establish a Florida living will, you should speak with an experienced estate planning attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Mark F. Moss for a no-cost consultation.
This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Using this site or communicating with Law Offices of Mark F. Moss, PLLC, through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship.