Advance Directive Documents in Florida
If you are in a serious car accident or wind up unconscious in the hospital with an illness or injury, who will make medical decisions for you? Who could tell your doctor what your wishes are for end-of-life care or if you want extraordinary means to be taken to keep you alive? Who would your doctor call to discuss these decisions with?
Who Can Make Healthcare Decisions for You if You Can’t?
In Florida, without advance directive documents, such as a Designation of Health Care Surrogate (also known as a medical proxy or medical power of attorney) and a HIPAA release form, your family members or loved ones would not be able to make medical decisions for you and would be forced to go to court to get that decision-making ability.
Similarly, if your young adult child or disabled child over age 18 were injured seriously or in a hospital without the ability to convey their wishes in Florida, you as a parent would not have the right to make decisions on your child’s behalf without this signed Designation of Health Care Surrogate. You would have to go to court to fight for that right.
RTRLAW’s estate planning attorneys can prepare a Designation of Health Care Surrogate document for you and your adult children who may still be residing in your home. This legal document allows you to choose a trusted relative or loved one who will be able to make vital health care decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
Our experienced estate planning attorneys will ensure that the document complies with all Florida statutory requirements and federal HIPAA regulations.
In addition to the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) representative form gives you a way to authorize your family members or loved ones to gain access to otherwise confidential medical records. Without this form in the state of Florida, your doctor or a medical facility or hospital would not be allowed to share your medical condition, treatments or medication with your loved ones.
RTRLAW’s estate planning attorneys also can prepare a living will for our clients in Florida. A living will is different from a Last Will and Testament in that it only specifies your wishes regarding life-sustaining devices and treatments. We recommend that all adults over age 18 have a living will. A living will must be revised continuously to remain current with new and evolving laws and may need to be changed if your thoughts change regarding being kept alive by extraordinary means.
Younger adults are more at risk of suffering severe accidents or being in trauma-related comas, otherwise known as a persistent vegetative state. They may desire to have any and all extraordinary means taken to preserve their lives. Seniors, on the other hand, may be in the hospital more frequently or suffer from heart attacks or other long-term or end-of-life illnesses which may cause a persistent vegetative state, prompting the need for a living will to limit unnecessary and undesired prolonged medical treatment and the taking of extraordinary measures.
No matter what your decision is, a living will can inform your doctor, the hospital and your family just what you would like to happen should the unthinkable occur and you end up in a persistent vegetative state, and unable to make health care decisions for yourself.
Finally, RTRLAW’s estate planning attorneys can prepare a Designation of Pre-Need Guardian, where you designate a person to serve as your legally appointed guardian if your Advance Directives (i.e., durable power of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, etc.) are not sufficient by the Florida court to authorize that person to make decisions on your behalf. Without this document, your family member or loved one would have to go to court to become your guardian, or short of that, the court may need to appoint a legal guardian for you.
Our estate planning attorneys can meet with clients by phone or video conference, or at one of our offices located throughout Florida, including Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Lake Worth, or by appointment in Miami or Jacksonville.