While no one really wants to think about end of life decisions, the possibility of sudden death due to accidents and serious illness is very real. We never know if or when that day will come or whether we will be able to communicate our wishes about important matters to our loved ones. But thanks to major advances in medicine and technology, people can execute living wills long before they pass away.
What Is a Living Will?
At HKH Elder Law, our skilled team of lawyers recommends that our clients equip themselves with a living will as part of their comprehensive estate plan. We know that signing a living will can be an intimidating experience for most people. Some people think they are giving up crucial rights when they sign a living will, but really, the opposite may be true.
A Living Will is a legal document that tells others specifically what you would want to happen under certain conditions where it looks like the probability of recovering isn’t likely. Those conditions are outlined and defined by Florida law. With a living will, you can choose to withhold different forms of life-extending treatments, such as respirators, surgeries, and tube feedings.
What Is a Do Not Resuscitate Order?
People often get confused between a living will and a “Do Not Resuscitate Order” (DNRO), however, these two documents have different implications when executed.
A DNRO is an order signed by a medical doctor that tells the medical community not to do CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation – if your heart or lungs stop working. It only covers resuscitation and not the other life-prolonging procedures. In Florida, the DNR is a form created by the Department of Health.
You can find the form and answers to common questions at: https://www.floridahealth.gov/.
What Are the Differences?
The living will comes in many forms and can express many different kinds of wishes (within limitations of the law), while the DNRO is a certain Florida Department of Health form. The DNRO is a doctor’s order that must be signed by a medical doctor and the individual, or a responsible party.
The living will is valid the day it is signed but is not put into play until certain circumstances exist. For example, if you are incapacitated due to an accident, then the living will would go into effect once it is established that you cannot communicate your wishes. The DNRO becomes effective the day it is signed. This means if a DNRO is signed, medical staff are directed not to resuscitate under any circumstances.
We Can Help You Plan for the Unexpected
Do you still have questions about adding a living will or DNRO to your estate plan? Our dedicated and compassionate attorneys are here to discuss your circumstances and address all of your questions. We believe every adult should address this question before it’s too late, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm for legal guidance.
By, April Hill
To set up a case consultation with HKH Elder Law, please give us a call today at (727) 240-2350 to speak to a member of our legal team.