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What is a Living Will?


It’s hard to think about, but the possibility always exists that at some point in our life we become severely incapacitated or wind up in a permanent vegetative state with little or no chance of recovery. Modern medicine and technology can prolong life for individuals in such situations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the person is “living.” If you want to be able to determine what kind of life-extending treatment you would like to receive – or not receive – in such an unfortunate circumstance, you should consider preparing a living will.

A living will is a very serious document created by an individual planning for the future if they are in a permanent vegetative state with no sense of recovery. It specifies the kinds of “extraordinary measures” that doctors can take can keep you alive and whether you would like such measures to be taken or not.

The National Institute on Aging lists a number of extraordinary measures that should be addressed in your Florida living well, as well as in a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order which advises physicians or other medical personnel that you do not want them to try to return your heart to a normal rhythm if it stops or is beating unevenly.

Make sure your living will discusses and expresses your wishes as to:

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  • ventilator use
  • artificial nutrition (tube feeding) or artificial hydration (intravenous fluids)
  • comfort care (managing pain and suffering)

Under Florida law, a living will must be signed by its maker in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is neither the spouse nor a blood relative of the maker.

If you signed a living will in another state, in will be valid in Florida if it was signed in compliance with the living will laws of that other states. Once a living will has been signed, the maker should notify and provide a copy to their physician.

A Florida living will may be revoked by the maker at any time by a signed and dated letter of revocation; by physically canceling or destroying the original document; by an oral expression of one’s intent to revoke; or by means of a later executed document which is materially different from the former document.

Given the importance of such a document, it is important to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer who can help you prepare your living will in compliance with Florida law.

Southwest Florida Estate Planning, PLLC: Naples Elder Law Attorney

If you would like to discuss living wills or other issues involving advance-care planning, please give me a call at (239) 216-4107 or fill out our online form.  As a Florida elder law and estate planning lawyer, I work with clients at all stages of life to help them take charge of their futures and take care of their families.