A Florida living will is the written declaration of your intentions for the kind and amount of medical treatment you desire. The point of the living will in Florida is to clarify what you want to happen should you be in a situation where you cannot speak and cannot communicate. It is called a living will because it takes effect while you are living.
A doctor will follow the direction of your living will only when you cannot make your own medical decisions. Legally, you must lack capacity, which is the legal term for not being able to understand the nature and consequences of your treatment and decisions. Or, you may lack the ability to communicate in any way—no speaking, writing, gestures, head nods, and so on.
If you lack capacity or cannot communicate, your living will (which you signed prior to this condition) will outline to your physician and family whether you do or don’t want certain medical procedures.
Most often, the living will states under what conditions you should be kept alive by life-sustaining treatment.
What’s the difference between a will and a living will? A will is the written instructions for distributing your estate (your assets upon death). Despite using the word “will,” a living will has nothing to do with a regular will. Instead, a living will is just the written instructions for when to withhold certain medical treatment.
Living Will Requirements
Under Florida law, a living will must:
- State how and when life-sustaning treatment should be provided or withheld.
- Be signed by the maker.
- Be signed by two witnesses.
- Be signed by everyone in the same room.
Do You Have a Living Will?
When you go to a hospital for a medical procedure, they often ask you, “Do you have a living will?” Sometimes they may want a copy of the living will as well.
While it is OK to tell the medical staff that you have a living will, we often recommend that you not provide the actual document to the hospital right away.
Instead, you may want to consider having your family member who is taking care of you decide when to give the living will to the facility.