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What is a Living Will?

A Living Will
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Often, a will is associated with one’s instructions for distribution of assets after death. However, this is not the only type of will an individual should have. Living wills, also called healthcare directives, concern a person’s wishes for care while they are still alive — medical care specifically.

Just like a final will and testament, a living will is not required under Florida state law. So, why should a person enlist a probate attorney in Miami to create one? Our experienced attorneys have witnessed time and time again the advantages of having clear instructions set forth for medical care, and have outlined those benefits below.

The Benefit of Having a Living Will

While not necessarily pleasant to think about, one never truly knows if he will fall victim to an accident or illness that leaves him incapacitated in some shape or form. In these instances, it is not possible for a person to clearly communicate his or her wishes for medical care. Every individual likely has preferences regarding medical care, making this is a serious concern. This concern is alleviated by having a living will, which clearly outlines which procedures are acceptable, what measures should be taken to prolong one’s life, and more. In drafting these instructions, the individual also helps take the burden off loved ones who would otherwise be tasked with making these difficult decisions. During what is surely already a stressful time, this benefit is invaluable.

How to Create a Living Will

Though it is not required that one work with a probate attorney in Miami to prepare a living will, doing so provides access to essential expertise and ensures all legal requirements are met. In addition to the legal aspects of the will, experience will also afford a probate lawyer knowledge about which areas are key to incorporate. Speaking with a medical professional regarding these considerations is also advisable.

Before meeting with an attorney, one should take some time to carefully consider his or her desires for the following:

  • Who should make medical decisions — within a living will, one can appoint a health care surrogate who is authorized to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. Especially for those without a spouse or living parents, this is an important designation.
  • What life-prolonging treatments are acceptable — for some, even CPR is a step that is not deemed appropriate for religious or personal reasons. It is essential to consider all possible steps that might be taken. Some might elect to include a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, or the broader “Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment,” which address this issue more directly.
  • Whether food and water should be administered — while not quite a treatment, tube feeding can prolong one’s life for years.
  • Palliative care — this concerns what pain relief treatments are acceptable, and is key for defining quality of life. However, some might wish not to receive this particular care.

Once one has dictated these desires in a living will, it is vital to ensure it is easily accessible should it be needed. The individual should leave a copy with the attorney, as well as provide one to his or her health care provider. Additionally, one should keep one in a safe space and include a card in his or her wallet that notes the living will’s existence. Finally, if a health care surrogate was identified, he or she should have one as well.

If you are ready to draft your living will, the first step is to speak with a probate attorney in Miami. At Graham Legal, we offer free consultations for all probate cases. Schedule yours today to ensure your wishes regarding medical care are honored should you ever be unable to speak for yourself.

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