What You Need to Know About Healthcare Directives

Health 2A healthcare directive is any legal document with instructions for others to follow regarding medical care you wish to have at the end of your life, or in the event of a debilitating illness or injury. It is often called an advance healthcare directive because it is drafted in advance of your need for it to be executed. The primary purpose of this is to let your loved ones know how to proceed with end-of-life care, but it can also let others know your wishes on organ donation and other areas.

To illustrate, let’s say you or a loved one has lost capacity due to dementia, which can be determined by a physician. Once incapacity has been decided upon, this triggers the execution of the healthcare directive.

Many people wonder what the difference is between an advance healthcare directive and a living Will. The answer is that a living Will is a type of healthcare directive; in fact, several documents are classified as advance healthcare directives:

  • Living Will
  • Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order
  • Healthcare power of attorney

A DNR order is simply your wish, in writing, not to be revived if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. A healthcare power of attorney, which is nearly identical to a healthcare surrogacy designation, gives someone you trust the power to make medical decisions for you when you’re no longer able.

A nice feature of healthcare directives is that you may cancel or modify the agreement if you decide while you have capacity. The changes, however, must be dated, signed, and witnessed by two individuals, one of which cannot be a blood relative. These requirements must also be met when initially validating the document.

Florida does not require, by law, you to draft a healthcare directive. However, if you fall into a coma or other medical state in which you cannot communicate your care preferences, a court may appoint a health care proxy whose views don’t align with your own. It’s important to designate a healthcare surrogate and have a thorough discussion with that person ahead of time so your desires can be honored when the time comes.

People create healthcare directives for themselves in a variety of different situations. Some may get theirs done while they’re completely healthy, while others may create theirs after being given some difficult medical news. Whatever your circumstances, we want to help square away your end-of-life wishes so you can have peace of mind and have a rich life filled with good cheer and time with loved ones. Call us today at (772) 221-3222 to start the process.


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