Do I Need an Advance Directive?
While your estate plan should certainly plan for the eventual end of your life, a successful estate plan contemplates numerous situations and scenarios in addition to death that requires advance planning. Consequently, a comprehensive estate plan will include a variety of estate planning tools. Among the most popular of these additional tools is an advance directive. The Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law explain why you might want to include an advance directive in your estate plan.
What Is an Advance Directive?
An advance directive is a legal document that allows you to plan and make your own end-of-life wishes known in case you are unable to communicate those wishes at some later time. State law dictates which type of advance directives are recognized in a particular state. The State of Florida recognizes the following types of advance directives:
- Designation of Health Care Surrogate. This document allows you to name someone as your healthcare representative who will be able to make decisions about your medical care — including decisions about life support — if you can no longer speak for yourself. Your health care surrogate activates if you are incapacitated and unable to provide informed consent for medical treatment and surgical and diagnostic procedure
- Living Will. A Florida Living Will activates if you have a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or you are in a persistent vegetative state, and your attending or treating physician and another consulting physician have determined that there is no medical probability of your recovery from such condition(s), It allows you to direct life-prolonging procedures be withheld or withdrawn when the application of such procedures would serve only to prolong artificially the process of dying.
Why Is Having an Advance Directive Important?
In your everyday life, you make hundreds of decisions a day. Most of those decisions are small, seemingly inconsequential, decisions; however, they are made by you. At the end of your life though, you may not be capable of making some of the most important decisions regarding your own healthcare. Without an advance directive in place, someone not of your choosing could end up making those critical health care decisions for you if a judge is required to appoint someone as your Agent. Moreover, if more than one person petitions the court to be your Agent, your loved ones could wind up in a costly and divisive court battle over the right to make health care decisions for you. Furthermore, you may have strong beliefs about receiving, or refusing, life-sustaining medical care at the end of your life. If so, the only way to guarantee that those beliefs are honored is through an advance directive. Keep in mind that loved ones may not agree with your wishes, particularly if you do not want life-sustaining treatment. Your loved ones may be incapable of making the decision to refuse life-sustaining measures because they don’t want to let you go. The best way to avoid putting them in such a difficult position is to take the decision-making authority away from them through the execution of an advance directive now.
Contact Coral Gables Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about including an advance directive in your estate plan, contact the experienced Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law by calling (305) 456-3255 to schedule an appointment.