Living wills express personal wishes for end of life care. They state what life-prolonging measures an individual desires, and what measures the individual chooses to refuse. Perhaps more than any other document, a living will is deeply personal and requires that one consider the end of life.
At Blackburn Law Firm, PLLC – LifePlanLaw.com, we provide each of our clients with a card – printed in color on plastic (like a driver’s license) that states “I HAVE A LIVING WILL” and lists the names and telephone numbers of your health care surrogates along with our telephone number and email address. It is suggested that you keep this or a similar card in your wallet, with your driver’s license, so that first responders will know who to call if you are ill or injured.
If you want medical providers to use all available means to prolong your life, then you do not need a living will. This would include resuscitation (“CPR”), use of a ventilator, artificial nutrition (“feeding tubes”), and artificial hydration (“IVs”) for as long as you live. If you do not want one or more of these procedures, or other end-of-life care, it is best to prepare a living will.
The Florida laws governing “advance health care directives” attempt to balance the individual’s right to refuse treatment with society’s goal of preserving life. To achieve that balance, Florida law requires living wills be executed with certain formalities and provides a mechanism to challenge in court a surrogate’s decision to refuse or withdraw treatment.
Florida significantly changed its statutory living will form in 2001 and added new provisions in 2015. Living wills executed before Florida amended its laws in 2001, or prepared in another state, are effective, but medical providers may hesitate to honor them. Therefore, if expressing your right to refuse treatment is important to you, it is best to prepare a living will that meets Florida’s 2001 criteria.
With or without a living will, your health care surrogate, family, friends, and medical providers can support you best if you tell them about your desires. It may seem morbid or insensitive to talk about end-of-life preferences, but no one knows when a catastrophic injury or illness may strike. If we talk about these matters, then we can live every moment of life to its fullest without worrying about what remains unsaid. The common wisdom to “live each moment as if it were our last” is wisdom indeed.
In addition, it is recommended that you tell your surrogate about your pets. If you are ill or injured, your surrogate can make arrangements to care for your pets. At Blackburn Law Firm, PLLC – LifePlanLaw.com, we partner with CJ Paws to provide pet cards to pet owners with emergency contact info in the event that something happen to you. This way, no pet is left behind.