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Friday, May 15, 2020

The Importance of an Advance Medical Directive

It can be difficult to imagine that you would be unable to speak for yourself because of an incapacitating illness or injury. However, that situation can happen to any of us. It often happens as we age, but it can also happen when we are young and healthy. Talking with a Florida estate planning attorney now about an Advance Medical Directive can ensure that your wishes and desires regarding end-of-life treatment are known and respected in the event you cannot speak for yourself.

What is an Advance Medical Directive?

An Advance Medical Directive is a legal document you create that communicates your wishes for interventions and medical treatments under certain circumstances. Advance Medical Directives allow you to consider all your choices regarding end-of-life care now while you are competent and able to make decisions about the type of care and treatments you would want in various situations. By expressing your wishes for treatment and care in a legal document, you can direct the healthcare you receive if you develop a terminal condition.

Advance Medical Directives also relieve your loved ones from making difficult decisions that could result in your death, such as denying life support or removing life support. It can be exceedingly difficult for loved ones to make these decisions when the result could be the end of your life. Advance Medical Directives decide for them. A doctor must comply with the instructions in a validly executed Advance Medical Directive or transfer your care to another physician.

Also, by executing Advance Medical Directives now, you can avoid the need for a court to appoint a guardian to make medical decisions for you. By choosing someone to act on your behalf, you can choose someone you trust to make decisions based on your desires instead of leaving the matter to the courts.

Common Types of Advance Medical Directives in Florida

There are several types of Advance Medical Directives recognized in Florida.

Living Wills

A Living Will is one of the most common types of medical directives used in estate planning. A Living Will specifies the types of medical treatment you want, or you do not want to be provided should you become incapacitated. Generally, Living Wills are used to express your wishes for life-sustaining treatments, such as feeding tubes and ventilators, should you have a terminal illness, sustain a brain injury, or lapse into a coma.

Health Care Surrogate

A Health Care Surrogate or Medical Power of Attorney gives another person the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated. The person is expected to make decisions based on your expressed desires. The document may contain specific wishes, much like a Living Will, or it may be broad and general, so that the Health Care Surrogate has the same rights to request or refuse treatment that you would have if you could communicate your wishes to your doctors.

Anatomical Donation Elections

This medical directive is used to donate your physical remains for medical research or use as donor organs for another person. You may make this election through online registration or on your driver’s license.

Mental Health Care Surrogate

You may also appoint someone to authorize mental health treatment for you, including admitting you into a psychiatric facility. Other Advance Medical Directives do not cover mental health treatment. You need a separate legal document to appoint a person to act on your behalf regarding mental health care.

Do Not Resuscitate Order

A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order directs medical providers not to use resuscitative techniques to revive you if you experience a respiratory or cardiac arrest.

Contact A Florida Estate Planning Attorney for More Information

Advance Medical Directives must be executed according to very specific requirements to be valid.

Schedule a consult with us today. A Florida estate planning attorney can help you ensure that your legal documents are in order and will be honored should something happen.


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The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A. assists clients in Florida, including North Pinellas County, Palm Harbor, Trinity, West Pasco County, and the surrounding areas.



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