What Are Living Wills?

A Florida Living Will expresses your wishes concerning treatment in the event that you have a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, are in a persistent vegetative state. The right to make decisions concerning your own end-of-life treatment includes the right to accept or refuse medical treatment such as:

  • Assisted feeding
  • Dialysis
  • The use of breathing machines
  • Resuscitation if your heart or breathing stops
  • Organ or tissue donation

A Living Will is a legal document that clearly states your end-of-life choices. It explains how you feel about the care intended to sustain your life, and whether you want to be kept alive by extraordinary life-saving measures or life-prolonging procedures.

Living Wills as a Form of an Advance Directive

While your Last Will and Testament takes effect upon your death, a Living Will takes effect while you are still living. It is one form of an advance directive – stating your desires, expressed in advance and legally binding. Other advance directives include a designation of health care surrogate, and a durable power of attorney.

Not Just for the Elderly

Everyone should have a written Living Will. Without one, it will be presumed that everything possible will be done to keep you alive. It is extremely important that you make your own decisions.

Also, by expressing your wishes in advance to medical professionals and family, you avoid leaving your spouse or children with the difficult decisions about your medical treatment options during an emotionally charged time.

While many websites provide sample Living Wills, it is important to work with an experienced attorney because it is not uncommon for Living Wills to eventually be implemented in a manner that is not consistent with the wishes of the person. This means you could either be refused treatment you actually wanted, or administered treatment you did not want.

Some potential problems with living wills include:

  • Living wills may be misinterpreted as “Do Not Resucitate” (DNR) orders or “Do Not Treat” orders, especially because Living wills normally lack code status designations that medical personnel would more easily understand.
  • Living wills are often not crafted to the individual and his or her unique medical history or condition.
  • Living wills often lack informed consent, meaning the patient may not fully understand the document he or she signed.
  • Living wills sometimes use code language in a way that is not correct given how different codes are interpreted by medical personnel.

The attorneys at Langer Law, P.A. are well versed in these nuances and can help you prepare a Living Will that you will understand well, and that medical professionals will implement in the manner you desire. Contact us today for a consultation.