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Living will takes effect if patient is incapacitated

A living will, sometimes referred to as a directive to physicians or health care directive, may be an important part of a comprehensive Florida estate plan. The term is something of a misnomer as a living will isn’t really a will at all. Rather, it’s a document that sets forth a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment in the case he or she becomes incapacitated and cannot express his or her desires.

Living wills can be drafted to fit the needs and goals of the creator, and they can include instructions to provide all available medical treatment, no medical treatment or any level of treatment in between. Many people who make living wills choose to accept some treatment options and reject others. It may help to consult with a doctor before making a living will as the document raises potentially complex medical concerns. Living wills typically do not take effect unless a person has been determined to be terminally ill or permanently vegetative.

Another estate planning option that covers some of the contents of a living will is a specifically designed durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney may give another individual, who is called the attorney-in-fact, the authority to make health care determinations on behalf of someone. It might refer the attorney-in-fact to the living will or empower him or her to use his or her own judgment when making decisions.

People in Florida who are considering their estate plans might want to speak with a lawyer. An attorney with experience in estate planning law might be able to help by conducting an examination of a person’s situation and suggesting planning instruments that might be useful. A lawyer might draft planning documents like a will, trust, power of attorney or living will on behalf of a client or suggest ownership structures that could reduce tax liability for heirs.