Living Will: What is It and What Are the Benefits?
A Living Will is a legal document that allows you to describe your wishes regarding medical treatment and procedures when you are no longer able to provide informed consent. The person creating the Living Will (“the principal”) can describe his or her preferences for medical treatment for his or her end of life care. In other words, the Living Will lays out the procedures the principal wants and does not want to receive if they have a terminal condition. The Living Will can provide direction on pain management, palliative care, including care surrounding withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures.
What Are the Benefits of a Living Will?
There are several benefits of creating a Living Will:
- Reduce family disputes. Providing specific instructions about your medical treatment in the event of your incapacity eliminates the possibility of family disputes. Your wishes are laid out clearly in hopes to reduce any disagreements about the principal’s end of life care.
- Minimize or eliminate unnecessary medical costs. The principal can specifically opt out of certain medical procedures, including life-prolonging measures in the event of a terminal illness, which can minimize the cost of the treatment.
- Answer tough questions. Without a Living Will, family members of an incapacitated person must make tough decisions on behalf of their loved one. This can result in unnecessary stress and conflicts among family members who may have a different opinion regarding the treatment. By having a Living Will, you are making the decisions for yourself instead of others making those decisions for you.
- Define “Terminal Illness.” You can specifically define what a terminal illness means to you.
How to Execute a Living Will in Florida?
Under § 765.302, Florida Statutes, you must meet the following requirements to execute a valid Living Will in Florida:
- You are a competent adult;
- The Living Will must lay out your wishes regarding the approval or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures when they reach an end-stage condition of their terminal illness or vegetative state; and
- The document must be signed in the presence of two witnesses – both competent adults – to make it valid.
While it is never pleasant to think about end-of-life decisions or plan for your death, you and your family could benefit from executing a Living Will before it is too late.
Our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyers at Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, can help you draft and execute a valid Living Will to protect you and your family. Call 727-471-5868 to schedule a consultation and discuss your unique situation.