Florida law and living wills

Florida has specific laws that pertain to the use of living wills. A living will is not technically a will, merely a document that states a person’s end-of-life preferences. Florida still recognizes its authority to direct end-of-life decisions if an individual has not executed a living will.

One of the primary advantages of a living will in Florida is the ability to forego the use of any “death-delaying procedures.” Florida recognizes the right of an individual to refuse life support or similar procedures if they become incapacitated and have previously stated in a living will or similar document that this is their desire. It is important to note that Florida differentiates between a death-delaying procedure of mechanical or artificial means and medication or medical procedures that are intended to primarily relieve pain in a patient.

Florida also has specific legislation pertaining to physicians and their obligation to a living will. If a physician is not willing to abide by the terms of a living will, then he or she must attempt to transfer the care of the individual to a physician who is wiling to abide by the living will, as well as cover the cost of the transfer.

Florida also provides for the legal protection of a physician who is carrying out an end-of-life declaration, stating that a physician or health care provider will not face criminal prosecution for carrying out end-of-life declarations.

Living wills are a tricky area, because they innately involve a person declaring how they wish to die. This can be difficult for family members and loved ones to accept. An experienced attorney can help you craft the perfect document to honor your wishes, and help you share it with your loved ones in a safe and dignified manner.

Source: Findlaw.com, “Florida Living Wills Laws,” accessed Sep. 30, 2016

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