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ADVANCE DIRECTIVES

WHAT ARE ADVANCE DIRECTIVES, AND WHY DO I NEED THEM?

Advance Directives, such as a Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, or Health Care Surrogate, help Florida residents have a say in medical treatment even when they are not physically able to make those decisions. 

WHY DO I NEED AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?

Florida law says “every competent adult has the fundamental right of self-determination regarding decisions about his or her health, including the right to choose or refuse medical treatment.” Advance Directives are one way to make sure this right is protected. If you do not have an advance directive in place and a physician determines that you cannot make health care decisions for yourself, the law requires that a Health Care Proxy be appointed. In order of priority, the doctor can choose a proxy who is a legal guardian, spouse, adult child, parent, adult siblings, adult relatives, or a close friend. If you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, or Health Care Surrogate, someone who you do not want to make decisions for you may be appointed and/or your family and friends may not know your health care and end-of-life care preferences.

WHAT IS A LIVING WILL?

A Living Will lets you state your wishes about health care if you are in a persistent vegetative state, have an end-stage condition, or develop a terminal illness. It also allows you to express your organ donation wishes. Your Living Will only goes into effect when your doctor determines that you can no longer make your own health care decisions. Creating a Living Will can be a relief to family members as they will know your decision to start, continue, or stop life-sustaining treatments. 

WHAT IS A HEALTH CARE SURROGATE?

A Health Care Surrogate is a legal document that names a representative who will make medical decisions for you and obtain medical records when you cannot make them yourself. Your surrogate may be a family member or a close friend whom you trust to make serious decisions.

The person you name as your surrogate should clearly understand your wishes and be willing to accept the responsibility of making health care decisions for you. 

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