Nobody wants to imagine being unable to make choices about their medical care. But should the situation arise, a medical directive or ‘living will’ as it’s called in Florida puts you in control of your health care decisions. Centonzio Law and our health care attorneys can preemptively and skillfully ensure you receive the medical treatment you would choose if you could.

Every American deserves a say. Let us help put the right living will in place. Call 727-900-7290 to schedule an initial consultation.

Medical Directives & Living Wills in Florida

Directives Must Be Precise to Be Legally Enforceable

A living will puts you in control and allows you to make decisions about your health care if you cannot make decisions for yourself. For instance, you can choose whether you want life-sustaining or death-delaying intervention if you won’t recover from an illness or injury.

Most people understandably don’t want these decisions left up to chance or burden their loved ones. An advanced medical directive is essentially the only way to ensure your preferences for care are met when you can’t speak for yourself. Once you are ready to create your living will—you should work with an attorney to ensure it is valid, with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

When ambiguities exist, or there’s room for disagreement in a medical directive, it could lead to your wishes not being met. Therefore, things need to be correct with guidance from a knowledgeable attorney who knows you, your intentions, and how to draft a living will correctly.

Living Wills: Prevent Care You Don’t Want.

A few decades ago, in reaction to concerns that patients were being subjected to unwanted medical treatments and procedures, advanced medical directives were instituted. Advance directives can preemptively allow a person to make their own decisions about such care. This is especially important if medical providers and loved ones attempt to preserve your life at any cost, no matter how painful or invasive.

Medical Directives: Get Treatment You Do Want.

If you become incapacitated, but doctors believe you can recover, decisions can prolong your life. But in what capacity and for how long should be up to you. If your condition is terminal or you are in a persistent vegetative state, your medical directive can forgo life support or clearly express your desire to continue treatment.

Regardless, you should have a say, and advanced medical directives give you that voice.

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Invaluable in helping me through a difficult time.

Javier was invaluable in helping me through a difficult time. After my husband passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack at the age of 63, I was devastated. On top of everything, to learn that because we didn’t have our wills completed I would need to probate his estate, I didn’t know which way to turn. Javier walked me through the process and made it easy. He answered all my questions. Not only did I hire him to take care of my husband’s probate, but I had him take care of all my estate planning needs as well. Because of Javier’s knowledge of estate planning, and specifically with the various Florida statutes, he was able to complete all the necessary documents quickly and easily. Now I can rest assured that in the event something happens to me, my will and revocable trust will make things easier for my four children, and I know Javier will take care of anything that comes up.

- Debbie

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Medical Directive/Living Wills FAQs

Our Healthcare Lawyers Can Guide You

There may come a time when you are connected to life support, such as a breathing machine, because you can no longer breathe on your own. Would you want to stay connected to that equipment? And for how long? Who should make medical decisions for you, and what medical orders should be followed?

With our help, you can find answers and take comfort that the right plan is in place.

WHAT SHOULD MY LIVING WILL SAY?

If you suffer an incurable medical condition, your medical directive can state whether life-sustaining measures should be used, withheld, or discontinued. You can also specify any additional services you may or may not want. These might include pain relief, intravenous hydration, a feeding tube, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, ventilators, or an order not to resuscitate (DNR).

CAN MY FAMILY MAKE MEDICAL DECISIONS?

When a family member or friend is faced with making that decision for you, it can be heart-wrenching. So, to relieve them of that burden and decide for yourself, your medical directive can make your wish to be disconnected from life support clear. This obligates your medical providers to remove it.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A LIVING WILL?

You'll still receive care, but it may be more or less than you would prefer. When a patient has no advance directive in place and can't speak for themself, or no one is available to make treatment decisions, the attending physician will usually seek assistance from an ethics committee or be guided by the typical standard of care in ascertaining the patient's best interest. This standard may not account for what you think is best.

WHO CAN I APPOINT AS MY HEALTH CARE AGENT?

There are specific rules about whom you can legally appoint. In many cases, your decision about whom you designate is just as crucial as stating your wishes and preferences for medical care. For example, if you select someone not legally qualified, it could render your living will unenforceable. Additionally, if you could not survive without life support and your loved ones are reluctant to decide to remove it, the agent you selected will make the decision.

WILL MY MEDICAL DIRECTIVES BE FOLLOWED?

In almost all cases, if your living will complies with federal and Florida laws, your medical providers must follow your wishes. The exceptions are if there are legal errors in your health care directive, such as if the agent you assigned doesn't meet the standards set by law. A complication could also arise if your physician(s) can't or won't comply with your medical directive wishes because of professional or personal moral, or religious reasons. In that case, you will be transferred to a facility that will. These are reasons why a precisely legal medical care directive must be in place.

ARE THERE DECISIONS MY AGENT CAN’T MAKE?

Should you be concerned that the medical directive authorizes your agent to allow all medical or psychiatric treatment, don't worry. Under the law, your medical care agent can't order the following:

  • Sterilization
  • Psychosurgery
  • Abortion
  • Certain experimental treatments
  • Electroshock therapy
  • Admission to a psychiatric facility.

ARE MEDICAL DIRECTIVES VALID OUTSIDE FLORIDA?

Though state laws vary, since your directive has specified your wishes, your preferences will be followed in most cases. But if you spend considerable time in another state, you may want to create a directive in adherence to that state's specific laws. Centonzio Law's health care lawyers can also assist with creating an out-of-state medical directive.

Everyone Needs a Living Will

You deserve a say in ALL health care decisions

An advance medical directive is not just for older adults. People should plan ahead because these directives go beyond specifications regarding medical treatment. Should you become unable to make decisions about your care or handle financial matters, certain directives may be necessary to sustain your quality of life.

In addition to a living will that specifies what type of medical treatment(s) you want should you become unable to communicate, other directives include:

  • A Health Care Proxy designates a person to make your health care decisions should you become incapacitated.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney authorizes an individual or individuals to handle financial matters on your behalf when you are incapacitated.

A Florida Health Care Attorney Protects You

With all that’s involved with advance care planning, a knowledgeable legal professional is a real asset in planning for the future.

The laws and guidelines surrounding these directives are complicated and for a good reason. It takes careful wording, accurate document drafting, and exact language to make your wishes known – and most importantly, carried out.

At Centonzio Law, our attorneys will work with you to express your wishes clearly and create a legally enforceable living will so everything moves smoothly. Even if a family member or other concerned person protests, your wishes will be dictated by your medical directive.

Advanced Medical Directive Related Topics

Florida Health Care Surrogate Designation
Florida Living Will Attorney