Setting Up an Advance Healthcare Directive in Florida

Reliable guidance from a Palm Harbor attorney 

Every competent adult has the right to make decisions about whether to receive or refuse healthcare. 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? 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 directives. 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, my firm drafts personalized documents that formalize your wishes, so they are clear and enforceable. 

What is an advance healthcare directive?

An advance healthcare directive is an estate planning tool that allows an individual to express his or her desires should the need for medical treatment or emergency intervention arise. In Florida, there are three basic types of advance healthcare 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.
  • Healthcare surrogate designations — Also called a healthcare 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 a person’s driver 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.

Lawyer helps individuals set parameters for treatment in case they cannot communicate

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 intervention. 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 healthcare matters is invaluable. POLST provides a framework for seriously ill patients to consider the range of treatments they find acceptable.

Contact a compassionate estate planning attorney regarding an advance health directive

The Law Office of Nancy J. Oset in Palm Harbor advises Florida clients on the creation of living wills and other advance healthcare directives. Please call 727-510-4686 or contact me online to make an appointment. My main office is conveniently located south of town center on Palm Harbor Boulevard.

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  • Palm Harbor Office


    2706 Alternate 19 North
    Suite 219
    Palm Harbor, Florida 34683