A Living Will attorney in St. Petersburg can help you establish your wishes for end-of-life medical decisions. According to the Florida Statutes, a Living Will or “declaration” is a written document or oral statement from a principal (patient) that expresses their wishes and instructions regarding life-prolonging medical procedures. If an individual becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to make their own decisions at the end of their life, this document outlines how they wish to proceed with medical decisions.
A Living Will attorney at Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A. in St. Petersburg can help clients who want to prepare for potentially difficult situations.
When Are Living Wills Needed?
To be incapacitated or incompetent, a patient must be mentally or physically unable to willfully communicate their own decisions. Before reaching a stage where end-of-life decisions must be made, St. Petersburg residents should visit a Living Will attorney to draft a legal document outlining their desires.
No one is too young or too old to visit a Living Will attorney and create a declaration. In fact, doing so when you are at a good point in your life can give you peace of mind should something ever happen.
What Is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Regular Will?
Living Wills are not related to a conventional will or trust that leaves property and discusses one’s estate distribution after death. Instead, this is a document where you strictly explain what preferences you have regarding your health care decisions. It is up to the principal to decide how much say they want in their health care decision-making process.
What Living Wills Cover
A Living Will lays out the wishes an individual has regarding the end of their life and life-sustaining medical procedures. In Florida, there are three conditions:
- End-stage condition. A condition caused by illness, disease, or irreversible injury and has led to permanent or severe deterioration, and for which any treatment would be ineffective by all medical probability.
- Terminal condition. A condition caused by illness, disease, or injury where the patient is not expected to recover from with any medical probability, and that, without treatment, is expected to end in death.
- Persistent vegetative state. A permanent condition of being unconscious where the patient has an absence of voluntary actions or cognitive behaviors, and is unable to interact or communicate intentionally.
This does not take the place of a durable medical power of attorney or a health care surrogate. The language of these documents can be in general or very specific terms, depending on the individual’s wishes. For the most part, it is better to be as thorough as possible. Doing so is the best way to ensure that an individual’s wishes are followed. A Living Will attorney in St. Petersburg can help explain the details for completing a legally sound plan for end-of-life care.
Health Care Surrogate
A health care surrogate is an assigned individual who can make health care decisions for a patient. They can also receive health information as well. The patient can specify whether the surrogate can use their authority right away without requiring the patient be deemed incapacitated.
Durable Medical Power of Attorney
Power of attorney gives an individual (an agent) power to act for a principal (a patient). However, simply giving someone power of attorney does not automatically mean they can make health care decisions for you. You need to specify a medical power of attorney if you want to name someone to make medical decisions if you become unable to do so yourself. If you name a medical power of attorney, you should not need a health care surrogate if the medical power attorney representative is willing and able to make decisions.
Major Health Care Decisions to Consider When Creating a Living Will
When you meet with a Living Will attorney in St. Petersburg to draft your end-of-life wishes, it is wise to think about the specific decisions that you may potentially place in the hands of another. Medical decisions in this context can cover giving, withdrawing, or withholding consent for surgery, life-prolonging interventions, psychiatric treatment, hospitalization, at-home health care, and organ donation. This list is not comprehensive, but rather a list of things you should consider when creating your instructions.
For a Living Will Attorney You Can Trust, Choose Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A.
If you are looking for a Living Will attorney in the St. Petersburg area who can help you draft a legal document that outlines your wishes for end-of-life medical decisions, the law firm of Growney, McKeown & Barber, P.A. can help. Call us today at (727) 384-3800 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.