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What Is The Difference Between A Florida Advance Directive And Living Will?


If you have begun the estate planning conversation and are learning about your options, you have probably come to the realization that a will alone is not enough. A well-crafted estate plan also includes arrangements for incapacity, since decisions regarding your medical care and well-being are still essential even when you cannot make them. In Florida, the two key documents that address such a scenario are the Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a living will. Each functions differently, even though they fall under the same Florida statute on health care advance directives.

As a result, there can be considerable confusion over how they work and whether you need both. A Dade City advance directives attorney can explain why you need both a health care surrogate and a living will in your estate plan, but an overview is useful. 

Comparing Advance Directives and Living Wills 

A quick online search will uncover various forms for a health care designation, and many will incorporate these two concepts together – another source of confusion. To clarify how they work:

  • Through a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, you appoint an agent to make decisions regarding medical treatment and health-related needs in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Your surrogate can also apply for public assistance, provide or withhold consent to treatment, and authorize transfers to health care facilities.

A living will is a statement of your intentions regarding life-prolonging procedures if you have a terminal condition or in a vegetative state. You can authorize the administration of nutrition, medications for pain, and other methods – or state which medical treatments you do NOT want. 

Legal Assistance with Advance Directives in Estate Planning 

Alleviating the confusion between a health care designation and living will is a start, but you cover all your bases when you have a lawyer’s help with estate planning. Essential tasks include: 

  • Assessment of your goals related to what treatment you authorize or withhold in your living will;
  • Determining who will serve as your health care agent and successors;
  • Executing the living will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate, a process which requires two witnesses; and
  • Following up periodically to make any changes or modify advance directives.

An estate planning attorney can also advise on other options that address incapacity, including a Durable Power of Attorney. This document enables you to name an agent who is authorized to act on your behalf with respect to your assets and financial matters. Without advance directives and powers of attorney, your loved ones must go through guardianship proceedings, which can be time-consuming and costly.

Trust a Florida Advance Directives Lawyer for Details 

You can see from this summary that a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and living will are very different, even though some of the relevant concepts might overlap. For additional information, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. We can explain how the laws work and answer questions about how these documents fit in your estate plan. Individuals in Pasco County and the surrounding area can call 352-567-0055 or visit our website to set up a consultation.



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