Tampa Living Wills Attorney
At Strategic Counsel Law Group, we engage in comprehensive estate planning for our clients in Tampa who want to ensure that their estate is distributed in accordance with their wishes after they are gone, while also making sure that end-of-life medical and health care decisions are also made according to their desires. A living will is an essential part of that process. Our dedicated team of compassionate Tampa living wills attorneys will take the time to explain what a living will does and discuss your preferences with you. We’ll draft a valid and enforceable living will as part of your overall estate plan so you can live with the peace of mind knowing that you have a say in how end-of-life decisions will be made even if you can’t communicate them at the time.
Living Wills in Florida – the Florida Life-Prolonging Procedure Act
A significant aspect of estate planning deals with planning for incapacity and setting out how decisions will be made regarding your personal affairs if you become disabled and can’t make these decisions for yourself. A living will is only one piece of that puzzle; you’ll also need to have documents such as a Durable Power of Attorney and a Designation of Health Care Surrogate. These legal instruments authorize a person to act on your behalf regarding medical, legal and financial decisions in accordance with instructions you have left for them.
The Living Will deals with one specific aspect of planning for incapacity, which is specifically about administering, withholding or terminating life-sustaining treatment. Living wills are authorized under Florida law as part of the Life-Prolonging Procedure Act of Florida, found in Florida Statutes sections 765.301 through 765.309.
Many people have strong beliefs when it comes to the end of life, and many do not wish to have their dying artificially prolonged through practices such as tube feeding or ventilator-assisted respiration. They might prefer instead to die naturally and only accept medication or medical procedures for the purpose of comfort or to alleviate pain. A living will is a legal document that expresses those wishes.
Under Florida’s living will statute, a living will can be implemented in any of the following situations:
- The individual has a terminal condition
- The individual has an end-stage condition
- The individual is in a persistent vegetative state
and the individual’s primary physician or consulting physician determines there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery.
You can also use a living will to designate a surrogate to carry out the provisions of your declaration. Completing this step can make it easier for a family member to ensure your wishes are carried out. However, you are not required to designate a surrogate, and your living will should still be effective even if you don’t designate a surrogate.
What Is the Legal Effect of a Living Will in Florida?
As a resident of the state of Florida, you have the legal right to refuse medical or surgical treatment. A living will is an official document expressing your desire to exercise that right. The living will expresses your intention that this declaration be honored by your family and physician.
The living will is not conclusive evidence of your desires regarding life-prolonging treatment. In legal terms, the living will creates a “rebuttable presumption” of your intent by “clear and convincing evidence.” As a rebuttable presumption, the courts start from the position that the living will is a valid expression of your intent, but others could challenge or rebut that presumption by presenting contradictory evidence. However, the living will is “clear and convincing” evidence of your intent, which is a high standard of evidence in the law. It would take substantial and significant evidence to the contrary to rebut the presumption that the living will should be followed.
Help With Living Wills and Comprehensive Estate Planning in Tampa
As mentioned earlier, the living will is only one aspect of planning for incapacity, which is itself only one component of estate planning in Florida. At Strategic Counsel Law Group, our Tampa estate planning attorneys address living wills along with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and all other documents you need to have a complete estate plan that covers all the bases. Call our office at 813-286-1700 to arrange a consultation and begin the discussion about what should be included in your Tampa estate plan.