An advance health care directive lets you legally establish your health care wishes in case you are no longer able to express these wishes. With this document, you can name a person to make decisions on your behalf and detail your plans for end-of-life care.

Having an advance directive in place provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones. These are the key components of this important legal document.

Naming a designated agent

This person, known as your health care surrogate, is an individual who you trust to express your wishes and make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and are unable to do so. You can name more than one person in this role. You may also name your health care surrogate in your durable power of attorney document, which means he or she can also make financial and/or legal decisions on your behalf.

Writing a living will

Unlike a standard will, which discusses the division of assets, a living will specifically details the care you wish to receive to prolong your life. On this form, you can express your wishes about treatments and interventions such as:

  • Resuscitation
  • Dialysis
  • Tube feedings
  • Breathing machines
  • Organ and tissue donation

You can also indicate where you want to receive medical care and provide information about your intended funeral arrangements. You may find it difficult to consider some of these matters. However, thinking about your wishes now means family members will not have to make these choices for you during a difficult time.

Legalizing an advance directive

You can either have the advance directive notarized or signed by two witnesses who are not also your power of attorney. Give copies of this legal document to your doctor, attorney and loved ones so they are aware of your beliefs and desires about end-of-life care.

Like most states, Florida provides a sample living will form. Using this template ensures that your living will meets the state’s requirements for legality.