Guiding Families Along The Gulf Coast Since 1994

Setting Up An Advance Health Care Directive In Florida

Every competent adult has the right to make decisions about whether to receive or refuse health care. Without this right, we lose our personal autonomy, and our dignity is diminished.

But have you thought about what would happen if you were suddenly incapacitated? Who would make decisions regarding medical treatment?

I’m estate planning lawyer Nancy Oset. At The Law Office of Nancy J. Oset in Palm Harbor, I help clients retain control over their medical care through the use of advance health care directives, living wills and other estate planning tools. As part of your estate plan, you can transfer authority to a trusted individual or declare your intentions regarding lifesaving interventions. In close consultation with you, I can draft personalized documents that formalize your wishes, so they are clear and enforceable.

What Is An Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is an estate planning tool that allows people to document their wishes in the event that they become legally incapacitated and need medical treatment or emergency intervention. In Florida, there are three basic types of advance health care directives:

  • Living will – This is a document memorializing the type of medical care you find acceptable, as well as treatments you want to rule out, if extraordinary measures are needed to prolong your life. Although Florida law honors oral statements, having a written document provides greater assurance that your wishes will be honored.
  • Health care surrogate designations – Also called a health care power of attorney, this document allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Within this document, you can express your wishes about limiting any treatments. You can also name an alternative agent, in case the primary person you designate is unavailable or unable to perform.
  • Anatomical designations – This statement allows you to donate all or part of your body after you die. Typically, this designation is made on your driver’s license.

In my practice, I’ve helped countless clients obtain greater peace of mind by settling important issues relating to medical treatment before the need arrives. I also offer cost-effective estate planning bundles that include these important documents.

Setting Parameters For End-Of-Life Care And Life-Sustaining Measures

When I draft a living will, I take particular care to advise clients on all their options for emergency treatment, especially resuscitation. Relatively healthy clients generally prefer the “any and all” approach to intervention. But older, infirm clients can have real concerns about their quality of life after extreme measures are taken. Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, electric shocks to the heart and prolonged attempts to revive a patient can take a painful toll. Elderly and infirm patients can prohibit the use of defibrillators, and even opt for a total ban on lifesaving interventions. A Do Not Resuscitate order, or DNR, is often a comforting option for patients who have made their peace with end-of-life issues.

Florida’s POLST program

Individuals who are seriously ill can choose to execute a special type of living will, called a Physicians Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. The Florida POLST program is still in development, but essentially it promotes collaboration with treating physicians when determining care standards for patients with severe or terminal illness. Having a doctor’s input when deciding on health care matters is invaluable. POLST provides a framework for seriously ill patients to consider the range of treatments they find acceptable.

Start Planning For Your Future Today With An Advance Directive

I am here to help you put your wishes into place so you can feel secure about your future. Please call 727-387-3671 or contact me online for a free 30-minute consultation. My main office is conveniently located south of town center on Palm Harbor Boulevard.