An advance directive is a written, legal statement that protects your rights and wishes regarding certain medical treatments, procedures, and life-saving care. Your signed advance directive will be followed by your healthcare team, even if you are too ill to communicate with a doctor.
While it’s never easy to think about a time when you may not be able to speak for yourself, advanced directives can give you and your family peace of mind that your wishes are on record.
A living will is a declaration that states whether or not you want to be kept alive by medical treatment when you have a terminal or end-stage illness, or if you are in a persistent vegetative state and unable to make decisions for yourself.
A living will requires two witnesses, including one person that is not a spouse or blood relative.
Designated healthcare surrogate.
You may choose to pick a designated healthcare surrogate which is another person who will have the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Once you sign the designated healthcare surrogate document, that person will be allowed to consult with your healthcare providers and consent to medical or surgical procedures they believe you would have agreed with.
This document requires two witnesses, including one person who is not a spouse or blood relative. Your healthcare surrogate may not serve as a witness.
Power of attorney for healthcare.
This legal document is very similar to the healthcare surrogate, except it is typically written by an attorney. A person with power of attorney for healthcare is approved to make medical decisions for you. This could include withholding or withdrawing life support, or provisions for food or water.
This document must be notarized and witnessed by two people, including one person who is not a spouse or blood relative.
We know it may feel difficult to plan end-of-life care. We invite you to download a copy of Five Wishes, an easy-to-read document that explains your options and helps you make a plan before a crisis happens. Five Wishes takes into account your medical, emotional, personal, and spiritual needs and can be a helpful guide in discussing your wishes with your family and your healthcare providers.
*The legal basis for these rights can be found in the Florida Statutes: Life-Prolonging Procedure Act, Chapter 765; Durable Power of Attorney; Section 709.08; and Court Appointed Guardianship., Chapter 744; and in the Florida Supreme Court decision on the constitutional right of privacy, Guardianship of Estelle Browning, 1990.