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Living Wills

A living will allows an individual to take control of his/her future medical treatment in advance of an incapacitating illness or injury by specifying in advance whether or not a person is to have his/her life prolonged through artificial or extreme methods. It goes into effect only when you are no longer capable of making decisions about your medical treatment. Living Wills are made more effective when supplemented by a health care proxy or durable power of attorney for health, naming a relative or friend to act on the patient’s behalf if he/she is unable to do so.

In accordance with Florida law, the will must be signed by the principal in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom is neither a spouse nor a blood relative of the principal. If the principal is physically unable to sign, one of the witnesses must subscribe the principal’s signature in the principal’s presence and at their direction.

In the absence of a living will, the decision to withhold or withdraw life-prolonging procedures from a patient may be made by the health care surrogate designated by the patient unless the designation limits the surrogate’s authority to consent to the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures. The surrogate must be satisfied that the patient does not have a reasonable; probability of recovering capacity so that the right could be exercised by the patient and the patient has an end stage condition, is in a persistent vegetative state, or the patient’s physical condition is terminal.

This article is for general reference only, and it is not intended to be a substitute for the hiring of an attorney. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case.

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