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What is a living will?

If you are a Florida resident who has very strong preferences about what kind of end-of-life medical care you want to receive and/or what types of medical treatments you want and do not want should you become incapacitated by illness or injury, you may wish to consider having a living will. As FindLaw explains, a living will, often called an advance directive, is not really a will as people normally use that word.

Whereas a regular will contains your instructions regarding who you want to receive which pieces of your property when you die, a living will contains your instructions to doctors and hospitals regarding the medical treatments and procedures you want them to perform – or not perform – if you become terminally ill or sustain injuries that leave you in a permanent vegetative state.

Instructions your living will can contain

You can give whatever instructions you desire in your living will, but many people include such things as the following:

  • Whether or not you wish to have CPR and other emergency procedures performed on you
  • Whether or not you wish to be placed on one or more life support systems even though they may prolong your life
  • Whether or not you wish to have a feeding tube inserted and/or receive other means of nutritional support even though this may prolong your life
  • Whether or not you wish to have pain medications even though they may hasten your death

In addition, you will designate the person, such as a trusted family member or friend, who you want to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make or communicate them yourself. It is always a good idea to also designate a secondary person who will act in the event that your primary designee cannot or refuses to make these decisions on your behalf when the time comes.

Before appointing these people, you no doubt will want to have some serious conversations with them to make sure that they agree with the decisions you want them to make on your behalf and are willing to serve as your medical decision-maker if and when the need arises. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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