An injury or health condition can render you unable to communicate your healthcare wishes or take care of your financial affairs. When this happens, you need someone who can direct your medical care and finances on your behalf and in a manner that promotes your interests.
With a living will, you can provide your loved ones with guidance on making legal decisions on your behalf while preventing others from taking advantage of your incapacity. This post looks at living wills and the reasons for drawing up these documents while you are still in good health.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document appointing someone else (your healthcare surrogate) to make legal decisions if you become mentally or physically incapacitated and unable to conduct your affairs.
As the principal, you can appoint any competent adult as your healthcare surrogate in your living will. The healthcare surrogate doesn’t need to be an attorney.
You and two witnesses must sign the document for your living will to be valid under Florida law. A notary also needs to acknowledge your signature on the living will.
Direct Your Medical Care
A living will outlines the healthcare wishes your healthcare surrogate needs to follow if an injury or health condition prevents you from speaking for yourself.
Your healthcare surrogate will communicate your medical directives to your doctors and other healthcare providers. The surrogate has the authority to carry out all your healthcare decisions, except for procedures relating to your comfort and pain management.
Under Florida law, a healthcare surrogate doesn’t have the authority to cancel a pregnant woman’s life-prolonging procedures if these procedures are viable and safe.
Set Financial Directives
A living will for finances authorizes a healthcare surrogate to carry out financial transactions and make legal decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
Examples of financial transactions your healthcare surrogate can conduct under the terms of a living will include depositing Social Security checks, filing tax returns, monitoring retirement accounts, or collecting rent.
When to Draw Up a Living Will
Life is unpredictable, and preparing for future uncertainties will ensure a favorable outcome for your loved ones.
Should you become incapacitated without a living will, the court will appoint a guardian to oversee your finances.
By drawing up and validating a living will, you ensure that someone you trust is in control of your assets. You also prevent a situation where your spouse or other close family member needs to go to court to gain control over your finances and healthcare.
Contact an Experienced Florida Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
At Amy L. Phillips, PLLC, we are a professional estate planning and probate law firm, and our legal team can assist you in all aspects of incapacity planning. If you want to draw up a living will that is valid under Florida law, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.