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Living Will Question and Answer
What is a Living Will? Every competent adult has the right to make a written declaration commonly known as a “Living Will.” The purpose of this document is to direct the provision, 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 Statues 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 dispose of personal property on or after his or her death, and appoints a personal representative or revokes or revises another will.
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 the physician of its existence. It is a good idea to provide a copy of the Living Will to the maker’s physician and hospital, to be placed within the medical records.
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 of 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. It is very important to tell the attending physician than that Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate has been revoked.