What Are Living Wills?
A Living Will is a written, signed and witnessed document that allows a person to state ahead of time whether the person wants certain life-prolonging procedures to be provided, withheld or withdrawn in the event that the person is unable to make their own decisions and the person becomes terminally ill, in an end-stage condition, or in a persistent vegetative state.
Terminal Condition, End-State Condition and Persistent Vegetative State definitions:
Terminal Condition means a condition caused by injury, disease or illness from which there is no reasonable medically probability of recovery and which, without treatment, can be expected to cause death.
End-Stage Condition means an irreversible condition that is caused by injury, disease or illness which has resulted in progressively severe and permanent deterioration, and which, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, treatment of the condition would be ineffective.
“If it’s definite that your life is at an end, in that situation you have to make a decision.”
a) The absence of voluntary action or cognitive behavior of any kind.
b) An inability to communicate or interact purposefully with the environment.
A Living Will allows you to state what type of health care treatments, if any, you would like to receive should you ever fall into one of the categories above, or if you want certain measures withdrawn from you, like artificial hydration or nutrition, or ventilation.
Please note that the Living Will form in our “Forms and Links” section defaults to “no artificial treatment or prolonging of life in the event of terminal illness, end-stage condition or persistent vegetative state.” In every circumstance, you should discuss your specific wishes with your designated healthcare surrogate.
“Without a living will, you don’t have the discretion to withdraw artificial hydration and nutrition in Florida.”
Commonly Asked Questions:
What is a Living Will?
Every competent adult has the right to make a written declaration regarding their end of life; this is known as a “Living Will.” The purpose of this document is to direct the provision, with the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures in the event one should have a terminal condition. The suggested form of this instrument has been provided by the Legislature within Florida Statutes Section 765.303. In Florida, the definition of “life-prolonging procedures” has been expanded by the Legislature to include the provision of food and water to terminally ill patients.
What is the difference between a Living Will and a legal will?
A Living Will should not be confused with a person’s legal will, which disposes of personal property on or after his or her death.
How do I make my Living Will effective?
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 the maker is physically unable to sign the Living Will, one of the witnesses can sign in
the presence and at the direction of the maker. Florida will recognize a Living Will which has been signed in another state, if that Living Will was signed in compliance with the laws of that state or in compliance with the laws of Florida.
After I sign a Living Will, what is next?
Once a Living Will has been signed, it is the maker’s responsibility to provide notification to his or her physician(s) of its existence. It is a good idea to provide a copy of the Living Will to the maker’s physician(s) and hospital, to be placed within the medical records. A copy of the Living Will is sufficient substitute for an original in Florida.
Can the Living Will and the Health Care Surrogate designation be revoked?
Both the Living Will and the Designation of Health Care Surrogate 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.