Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Helps You Prepare an Advance Directive
Jupiter law firm enabling families to make decisions when a loved one is incapacitated
Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to appoint a Health Care Surrogate and clearly articulate your preferences regarding artificial life prolonging medical interventions. Many people don’t include advance directives when estate planning, but they are crucial documents that can save your family heartache during a medical crisis. No one wants to force their family to make a hasty decision under extreme duress. At Jupiter Wills and Trusts, PLLC, I have 8 years of experience advising clients throughout Palm Beach County on the various contingencies they can address in an advance directive. I can help you to draft clear instructions so that a specific plan exists for your treatment if you lose the ability to communicate.
An attorney empowering people to manage their own medical and financial concerns
Advance directives can set forth instructions on various matters and come in several forms, including:
- Health Care Surrogate. This document designates who will be able to make health care decisions and provide informed consent if you are incapable of doing so yourself. In Florida, you also have the ability to give the surrogate decision making authority now even if you are still capable of making your own decisions. Without this document, the State provides an order of who can serve as your proxy. It is always best to choose your own surrogate instead of leaving it up to the State.
- Living wills. A living will states your preferences regarding artificial life prolonging procedures should you be in a terminally ill or permanent vegetative state. It is not a will in the conventional sense, as it does not distribute property and is meant to apply while the person is alive. Your surrogate actually makes the decisions but the living will guides the surrogate, family, and medical practitioners on what your preferences are.
- Durable powers of attorney. Durable powers of attorney authorize someone you trust to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are alive (the power dies with you and your Will/Trust then takes over). The authority granted by the document allows your attorney-in-fact/agent to open mail, file tax returns, make insurance claims, access bank accounts and write checks, and a myriad of other things related to your assets. The person named would essentially be able to handle your entire financial life as though they stepped into your shoes. While a Durable Power of Attorney is not technically an advance directive, I include it in this category because it is an essential document when needed and should be executed in advance of any incapacity you may have.
- Do not resuscitate orders. If someone is terminally ill or too frail to recover from physically taxing forms of intervention, a DNR instructs medical personnel to refrain from performing CPR and other lifesaving measures. This form must be signed by a doctor and it must be presented when the first responders arrive. It is exactly what it is called and you must thoroughly consider the effect of signing this document. Should you have one in place, and you suffer a heart attack that you could recover from if they resuscitate you, they will not touch you.
At Jupiter Wills and Trusts, PLLC, I will take the time to discuss each of these options so that you can be comfortable that every item you wish to address is covered appropriately.
Skillful counsel to avert future disputes over life-and-death decisions
Through the years, there have been numerous stories in the media detailing protracted court battles among family members over the treatment of incapacitated relatives. I can formulate documents clearly enough that there should be no room for misinterpretation or argument. This way, your family can avoid expensive litigation and move forward.