Should I Have a Living Will?


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Guidance on whether to have a Living Will and how to make one.

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Should I Have a Living Will?

  1. 1. Should  I  Have  a  Living  Will?   By  Heather  Lueke  Smith,  Esq.     Also  known  as  an  Advance  Health  Care  Directive,  a  Living  Will  is  a  set  of  written   instructions  to  your  health  care  providers  and  loved  ones  letting  them  know  how   much  and  what  kind  of  medical  care  you  want  if  you  become  incapacitated  and  can   no  longer  express  your  wishes.    The  first  Living  Will  was  drafted  in  1969  by  an   attorney  named  Luis  Kutner,  who  was  inspired  by  a  friend’s  “slow,  painful  death.”     Each  state  has  its  own  requirements  for  this  document.    In  Florida,  Section  765.302   of  the  state  statutes  sets  out  the  elements  of  a  valid  Living  Will:     • The  person  making  the  Living  Will,  called  the  “principal,”  must  be  a   competent  adult   • It  sets  out  whether  the  principal  wants  life-­‐prolonging  procedures  to  be   provided,  withheld  or  withdrawn  if  he  or  she  has  a  terminal  condition,  end-­‐ state  condition,  or  is  in  a  persistent  vegetative  state.   • It  must  be  signed  by  the  principal  in  the  presence  of  two  witnesses.   • These  two  witnesses  must  also  sign  the  document   • One  of  the  witnesses  cannot  be  the  spouse  or  blood  relative  of  the  principal   • If  the  principal  is  physically  unable  to  sign  it,  one  of  the  witnesses  may  sign   for  the  principal,  in  his  presence  and  at  his  direction.       I  recommend  that  you  make  a  Living  Will  to  protect  both  yourself  and  your  loved   ones.    A  Living  Will  protects  you  because  it  makes  sure  that  you  receive  exactly  the   kind  of  medical  care  you  want,  even  when  you  cannot  speak  for  yourself.  A  Living   Will  also  protects  your  loved  ones  from  having  to  make  the  agonizing  decision  of   whether  to  continue  your  medical  care  when  the  doctors  advise  that  there  is  no   hope  of  recovery.    Many  families,  some  quite  publicly,  have  been  torn  apart  by   disagreements  related  to  these  medical  decisions.    Having  a  Living  Will  relieves  your   family  of  this  burden.     You  need  not  hire  an  attorney  to  make  a  Living  Will.    The  Supreme  Court  of  Florida   has  approved  a  form,  which  you  can  find  at:    However,  if  you  do  wish  to  talk  to  an   attorney  about  a  Living  Will,  or  any  other  estate  planning  issue,  please  contact  me  at