Having a say in your own medical treatment is vital. While you always listen to your doctors’ advice, you probably want the power to weigh your options and make an informed decision based on the facts available to you and your personal values. For example, when it comes to end-of-life care, some people would want their medical team to do everything possible to keep them alive, while others prefer little to no life-extending intervention if the ensuing quality of life would be low.
But often, these situations arise when the patient is severely injured or ill. You might be unconscious or confused, unable to understand what your doctors are saying or communicate with them. How can you ensure that your wishes are carried out?
Fortunately, there is a way. You can include an advance directive in your estate plan.
What is an advance directive?
In Florida, an advance directive essentially is a document in which you write down what kinds of medical intervention you would want in various end-of-life scenarios. For example, you can state whether you would want to be attached to a ventilator or feeding tube to keep you alive, or whether you would want CPR performed if you have been declared brain dead. This part of the advance directive is also known as a living will.
You can also use your advance directive to designate a health care surrogate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. This should be someone you trust who is capable of handling complex medical decisions. Many people choose their spouse or adult child. Finally, your advance directive can include your decision whether you wish to donate your organs to others after you pass away.
Like the rest of estate planning, your advance directive lets you plan ahead and avoid unfortunate outcomes as much as possible.