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What is an advance directive?

An Advance Health Care Directive or Advance Directive is a legal document that states your preferences for medical actions that you want or do not want to be taken if you are critically ill or injured.  An Advance Directive should be included in all estate plans as it provides doctors and loved ones with clear guidance on how you want to be treated if you reach the end of your life.  Each state has its own unique Advance Directive form.  As such, Floridians will want to consult with their estate planning attorney to ensure they have drafted a complete Advance Directive that complies with state law.

Your Advance Directive

Within your Advance Directive, you will make several critical medical decisions should the day arrive when you are severely ill or injured.  For instance, you will decide what kind of life support treatment you want or do not want.  You will designate a health care proxy or Health Care Power of Attorney, which names a person whom you want to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable.  You can further decide whether you want a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order, as well as if you would like to be an organ donor.

Your Advance Directive does not need to be prepared by an attorney, but an estate planning attorney can provide crucial assistance.  In Florida, your Advance Directive will need to be signed by two witnesses that are not related to you and have no stake in your assets upon your death.  In addition, your estate planning attorney can assist you in a wide range of matters related to aging and the future.

As you execute your Advance Directive, now is the time to consider your overall estate plan.  While your Advance Directive will preserve your physical body in your last days, it does not protect your hard earned assets.  Floridians who die without a will in the state will have no say in who receives their assets and their estate could be hit by costly estate related taxes.  Contact an estate planning attorney today for help preparing a complete estate plan that guards your health and your assets as you age.