An Advance Directive can be an estate planning document included in a Will & Testament or a stand alone document. It contains your personal preferences for any medical actions you do or do not want to be taken.
What should be included in an advance directive?
- Living Will
This document describes any specialized directions you choose to indicate ahead of time. These can range from instructions on how or when to use life sustaining techniques to clear-cut Do Not Resuscitate orders.
- Health Care Surrogate (or Medical Power of Attorney)
This designates a specific person who will make medical choices for you on your behalf if you are incapable of doing so yourself.
- Organ Donation
This expresses any wishes of donating organs once one has passed. If you do not acquire any estate planning documents, you may also submit a Letter of Intent to your local organ procurement organization.
It is always important to thoroughly discuss your wishes among those that you have entrusted to honor them. This would alleviate any doubts about your personal health care choices if a situation arose where you would be unable to convey them.
The document does not have to be prepared by an attorney, but an estate planning attorney can provide assistance if requested. The signing of the document requires two witnesses and Florida requires that at least one witness has no relation or personal interest in your situation.
The American Bar Association has a thorough “toolkit” page dedicated to helping make the best health care decisions for yourself:
ABA – Toolkit for Health Care Advance Planning
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration also has a page dedicated to health care advance directive form samples and additional informative resources: