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Setting the Benchmark in South Florida by Delivering Uniquely tailored Solutions to Family Law and Divorce Matters

Living Will and Advance Care Directives

Enormous advances in medical science in recent years have made it possible to keep patients alive significantly longer than they might have otherwise when facing a severe injury or terminal illness. This type of end-of-life care, however, is not always what the patient would choose if he or she were able to voice an opinion. For one thing, the costs of such treatment can be staggering. In 2009, Medicare paid $50 billion for medical treatments in the final two months of patients' lives, and it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of these costs applied to treatment that had no meaningful impact on those lives.

Doctor and hospital bills for end-of-life care in an intensive care unit can easily amount to more than $10,000 per day, and such care may go on for weeks or months. Consequently, keeping a person alive when he or she has a terminal condition can absolutely decimate an estate and leave little or nothing as an inheritance for the surviving family members. Furthermore, many people would rather not be kept on life support if it only means that he or she will spend the final days in a vegetative state or highly medicated with painkillers. For others, the preference is to stay alive as long as medically possible so that they can spend more time with their loved ones and say their last goodbyes.

The purpose of a living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, is to make it possible for you to clearly state your wishes so that you can make your voice heard when you can no longer speak for yourself. This type of estate planning instrument is normally intended to come into action in the event that the individual is diagnosed with a terminal condition or end-stage condition, or falls into a persistent vegetative state, and the attending physician determines that there is no medical probability that the patient will recover. Depending on your preferences, you may stipulate that you wish for certain types of procedures to be withheld, so that you can die naturally or with only pain relieving medication, or you may list out the various types of treatment and care you want to receive in order to prolong your life.

A living will is subject to strict provisions under Florida state law, and it is not sufficient to write your own document and then simply expect that it will come into operation in the future. It is necessary to observe certain procedures and forms when preparing a living will, and even minor mistakes could result in the document being declared invalid. If you want to ensure that your living will addresses all of the issues that might come up and that it will perform the functions that you expect it to, contact Marten-Law, P.A. We want to help you achieve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have made your wishes known and have relieved your loved ones of the distress and concern of having to make difficult decisions and then worrying over whether they have chosen as you would.

In addition to writing a living will, many of our clients also choose to draft another type of advanced healthcare directive, a healthcare proxy which designates a healthcare surrogate. A healthcare surrogate is an individual whom you have chosen as someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. Even a well-thought-out living will cannot anticipate any and all events that may arise, and the appointment of a healthcare surrogate serves to handle this problem by vesting a person with the authority to consult with your doctors and select a course of action for your treatment. Again, this reduces the potential for strife and stress among your family members, since there will be no question concerning who is in charge of making decisions about your care. Learn more about healthcare surrogates and living wills and get started on your own case now by contacting us for an initial consultation.


Related consumer resources:

Advance Health Care Directives Tool Kit

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