Many people are understandably confused about their legal documents. While most folks are familiar with – or have at least heard of – a Last Will and Testament, a Trust, and a Power of Attorney, they may still be puzzled by the documents related to their health care. This article will explain the basics of these very important documents:
Your Living Will (sometimes called a Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death) informs your family and doctors that you do not want extraordinary medical measures taken, especially those that would cause you pain or discomfort, if those measures would only prolong the dying process. This is a legal document essentially stating your desire for medical staff to “pull the plug” when there is no reasonable hope for survival or a meaningful life. Anyone can deliver this document to your doctors if your Health Care Surrogate is unavailable.
Designation of Health Care Surrogate
Your Designation of Health Care Surrogate authorizes the people you name as your Health Care Surrogate to make medical decisions for you if you cannot express your wishes or make the decisions yourself. These decisions generally involve choices in medications, non-emergency surgery, and admissions to medical facilities and nursing homes. It also allows your Health Care Surrogate to, among other things, enforce your Living Will, hire and fire medical providers, and to obtain copies of your medical records.
Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR)
A DNR is not prepared by a lawyer. It is a state-specific health care form that deals specifically with the refusal of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of cardiac or pulmonary arrest. It is a physician’s order, signed and dated by the patient (or health care surrogate) and the physician.
A DNR is honored in most health care settings, including hospices, adult family care homes, assisted living facilities, emergency departments, nursing homes, home health agencies and in hospitals. In addition, when the DNR is presented to an emergency medical technician or paramedic in a setting other than a health care facility, the form may be honored.
Under Florida law, the form is not valid unless it is printed on some shade of yellow paper. EMS providers and hospitals are not obligated to honor a form printed on white paper or any other color than yellow. The DNR form should be kept in a noticeable, easily accessible place such as the head or foot of a bed, or on the refrigerator.
We include Designations of Health Care Surrogate and Living Wills (if desired) in all of our estate planning packages because they are so important. If you’d like to learn more about how these documents – along with Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney – can protect you and your family, give us a call at 941-444-5958 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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