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July 5, 2012

How does a Florida living will work?

signhere.jpgIn Florida a living will can contain an advance medical directive. A living will is a statement of your wishes for the kind of life-sustaining medical intervention you want, or don't want, in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate. A living will is typically used by people to identify the point at which they no longer desire certain types of life-prolonging medical treatment. The Advanced medical directive can also lay out an individual's desire for continuation of treatment in the even that the individual is unable to communicate their desires or but is not in one of the predefined terminal medical states that they have already communicated their desires in relation to medical care.

Living wills are very important legal documents with legal power. Assuming the proper procedure has been followed, a patient's wishes are taken very seriously, and a living will is one of the best ways to have a say in your medical care when you can't express yourself otherwise.

Once your living will has been drafted, make sure it's signed and on file with your Florida estate planning attorney. You should also provide a copy to:

· Your regular physician
· Family members
· Close friends
· The medical records department of the hospital you're likely to visit
· If you are in a nursing home or are seeing a medical specialist, they should get a copy as well.

Finally, you can put a card in your wallet that says you have a living will and whom to call to get a copy.

While living wills are important documents, many people don't realize their limitations. Typically, living wills are only effective after your attending physician has declared that you are in final states of life and you are both mentally and physically incapacitated or permanently unconscious. The problem is that many people who are not competent to make health decisions are not in an end-state medical condition or permanently unconscious. As a result of the limitations of the living will, many experts recommend that you move beyond simply leaving instructions for others and name a person who will be authorized to make health care decisions for you in the event of your incapacity.

That is why we would recommend including advanced medical directives with your living will. The advanced directives will allow someone who you designate to make decisions when your living will does not and you are unable to make the decisions. These documents should be in a single document so that someone cannot manipulate your desires by showing one document but not the other.

If you have questions about probating an estate or about a will or a trust, contact the Jacksonville estate planning lawyer or call the Apple Law Firm PLLC at (904) 685-1200.

Source: "Living wills and health-care proxies," published at

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Removing a Personal Representative in a Florida Probate

Planning for Pets who are Part of Your Family: Can a Pet Trust help?

February 29, 2012

What are Florida Advance Directives?

Advance directives.jpgYou asked and a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer will advise you that according to Florida Law, an "Advance directive" means a witnessed written document or oral statement in which instructions are given by a principal or in which the principal's desires are expressed concerning any aspect of the principal's health care, and includes, but is not limited to, the designation of a health care surrogate, a living will, or an anatomical gift.

A Health Care Surrogate is chosen by the principal to act for the principal and to make all health care decisions for him or her during the principal's incapacity. The health care surrogate has the authority to consult with appropriate health care providers, to provide informed consent, to provide written consent, to be provided access to the appropriate medical records of the principal, and to apply for public benefits, such as Medicare and Medicaid on behalf of the principal.

The written designation of health care shall be signed by the principal in the presence of two adult witnesses. The person designated as surrogate shall not act as witness to the execution of the document designating the health care surrogate. At least one person who acts as a witness shall be neither the principal's spouse nor a blood relative. It is strongly suggested that the execution of the designation of health care surrogate be done in front of a notary.

A Living Will made be executed by any competent adult. It is a declaration concerning the providing, withholding, or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures in the event that a person has a terminal condition, has an end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state. A living will must be signed by the principal in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom is neither a spouse nor a blood relative of the principal. It is strongly suggested that the execution of the living will be done in front of a notary.

In determining whether a patient has a terminal condition, an end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state, or may recover capacity, the patient's attending or treating physician and at least one other consulting physician must separately examine the patient. The findings of each such examination are then documented in the patient's medical record and signed by each examining physician before life-prolonging procedures may be withheld or withdrawn.

An "Anatomical gift" or "gift" means a donation of all or part of a human body, to take effect after the donor's death and to be used for transplantation, therapy, research, or education. Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes has a comprehensive listing of provisions that detail everything one needs to consider when contemplating an anatomical gift.

Now that you know what "Advance Directives" are, contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer to have your advance directives prepared today.

September 25, 2011

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Wishes and the Elderly.

DNR.jpgFlorida elders know the importance of having a Living Will prepared. A Florida Living Will is a legal document, which expresses a person's wishes as to life-prolonging procedures. A Living Will typically only comes in to play when certain legally defined conditions exist. These conditions are:

  • a Terminable Condition;

  • an End-State Condition; and

  • a Persistent Vegetative State

An Eighty year old granddmother made her wishes plain as day, when she had the words "Do Not Resuscitate" tattooed across her chest. She is not kidding around. Just in case emergency personnel find her face down, a large tattoo "PTO" with an arrow is inked on her back. It's not that this Octogenarian has a death wish, it's just that her feelings are Strong that she not be kept alive through artificial means. If she is in a vegetative state, she does not want her family to remember her as a "lump".

When asked whether her tattoos were legally sufficient, a General Medical Council spokesman stated that most doctors would ignore her DNR tattoo. He said her DNR wishes need to be put in writing and witnessed, or for a health surrogate to be designated.

Moral of story. . . before you get inked, consult with a Jacksonville Advance Health Directives Attorney about having the legal documents prepared to express your end of life health care wishes. A Florida Living Will, executed pursuant to Florida Statutes, establishes a rebuttable presumption of clear and convincing evidence of a person's wishes.

July 2, 2011

Securing Your Assets and Health

According to the United States Census Bureau, the state of Florida has the highest Population Change and Net Migration of any other state, from the years 1975-2000. As is common knowledge, the baby-boomer generation is growing into retirement age, which increases the likelihood of periods of disability. There are two main options you should consider for who will manage your assets and health care decisions during a period of disability: 1) Set up a Revocable Living Trust; and/or 2) Designate a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Setting up a Florida Revocable Living Trust and a Florida Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care usually provides a person with the comfort in knowing that their health and assets will be managed for their own benefit. Using both types of documents in tandem ensures that your assets and health should not be managed to benefit the private/secret desires of another person.

If you are a baby-boomer who is not quite at the age of retirement and who may look into moving into a warmer climate such as Florida, There are options you may want to discuss with a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer now, so that you can further secure your dreams of moving down south.

January 18, 2011

Florida Probate of Time Share Property

As a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer I get questions from Lawyers and clients all over the country on how to deal with a Florida Timeshare and if it is necessary to open a separate Florida Probate for the timeshare.

It is important to determine if there is any value in the Florida Timeshare property. To do this you may think about the following issues:

  1. Generally timeshares are worthless and hard to sell.

  2. Since a timeshare is an interest in real estate, a Florida Probate must be used to transfer the property no matter what is done in any other state or what a will states. The only exception to this is if the timeshare was owned in a trust.

  3. Many management companies will suggest that if you deed the property back to them you will not be responsible for the fees, the only way to do this is by a Florida Probate unless it was owned by a trust.

  4. Even if you are named as the beneficiary in a Will, you have no personal obligation to pay any fees, unless and until the property is deeded to you through a Florida Probate.

  5. If you do a probate in another state, it is possible to give them notice and if no claim is filed, you can abandon the property and not be required to open a Florida Probate. (check with your local probate lawyer on this issue)

If you have need for a Florida Probate contact a Jacksonville Probate Lawyer to ask questions and we can help with probates of Florida property all over the state.

August 19, 2010

Lost Wills in Florida Require Live Witnesses

will.jpgA lost Florida Will is a will that was lost or destroyed without the decedent's knowledge or consent and without his or her intent to revoke. The original Florida Will of a testator can be revoked in a number of ways but the individual must have the intent to revoke the will. When the original will of the decedent cannot be located after her death, it is presumed that the will was destroyed with the intent to revoke it. Overcoming this presumption in Florida requires the proponent of a lost will to carry the burden of introducing competent and substantial evidence.

In the recent case Brennan v. Estate of Brennan, the issue addressed by the 5th District Court of Appeals was whether affidavits alone are enough to prove a lost will or whether live witness testimony is required. Relying on a similar issue addressed by the Florida Supreme Court and the 3rd DCA, the 5th DCA determined that in order for a lost will to be admitted to probate Fla. Stat. § 733.207 requires testimony of one disinterested witness and a "correct copy" of the will, or testimony from two disinterested witnesses. Affidavits merely swearing the witnesses saw the decedent execute the lost will and that witness signed the will are insufficient to fulfill this requirement.

From this decision it is apparent that a draft of the will or some evidence be provided for admission to the probate court and depending on whether a "correct copy" of the will is offered, the testimony of one or two disinterested witnesses. Florida Probate issues are anything but simple so if you feel the need for assistance don't hesitate to contact a Florida Probate lawyer or Florida Estate Planning Lawyer. If you are considering a Florida Will modification, it may be wise to do a full disclosure to all beneficiaries and those close to you because it will provide peace knowing your final wishes have been acknowledged.

June 23, 2010

The Florida Slayer Statute

In Florida, it is a common principle of law that criminals should not profit from their crimes. Therefore, it follows that a murderer should not be able to inherit from the estate of their victim. The most common, but unfortunate event that would trigger a slayer statute would be when a spouse murders the other spouse.

Under the Florida statute, a surviving person who unlawfully and intentionally kills or participates in killing the victim is not entitled to any benefits under the intestacy code or the victim's Florida Will or Florida Revocable Trust. Property that was originally meant for the killer passes as if the killer had predeceased the victim. A final conviction of murder in any degree is conclusive for purposes of this statute but in the absence of a conviction of murder in any degree, the court may determine by the greater weight of the evidence whether the killing was unlawful and intentional.

There are many situations where the slayer statute could arise in Florida Probate proceedings of a Florida Estate. None of them are simple and should be dealt with quickly and efficiently. For more information on how to deal with slayer statutes contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer or Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer.

June 11, 2010

Plan for Your Potential Incapacity in Florida

combo-livingwill.jpgOne important aspect of the estate planning process is determining what will happen if one day you become incapacitated. The decisions that you make on a day to day basis will no longer be possible, therefore you will be required to rely on someone else to make these decisions for you. Two positions, the Florida Health Care Surrogate and Florida Durable Power of Attorney, can serve as decision makers when your time of need arises.

The designation of a Florida Healthcare Surrogate is vital to the estate planning process because this person will make the medical decisions for you in a situations where you are unable to do so. This does not mean that the person will always make medical decisions for you. Only when an individual becomes incapacitated to the point that the primary physician decides he/she can no longer make medical decisions for themselves. Situations such as this often arise when someone is unconscious.

A Florida Durable Power of Attorney determines your financial matters in the event you become incapacitated. It is important to choose a trusting person to whom you can assign this power because of the many responsibilities he or she will have. You can control the degree of power the person chosen has over financial matters but under most circumstances they will have complete control over your banking transactions, real estate transactions, and securities exchanges. In some cases this person can even run your business for you by making contracts and running the day to day operations.

These decisions involve imperative decisions to your estate and future should anything happen to you. Discuss these estate planning issues with your Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer who can provide guidance and expertise in this sensitive area of law.

January 18, 2010

Estate Planning Professionals Network of NRA

EPPN.jpgDavid Goldman of Apple Law Firm, Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Blog, and NFA Gun Trust Lawyer Blog became a member of the Estate Planning Professionals network (EPPN) of the NRA. The next EPPN event will be held in conjunction with the NRA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina in May 2010.

As a member of the EPPN, David can modify wills and trusts with language that can be added to Florida Wills and Trusts to make bequests to the national Rifle Association or any of the NRA charities or endowments.

October 16, 2009

Review your Florida Estate Plan.

Many of my Jacksonville Estate Planning clients ask me when and how often they should review their Florida Estate Plan. I like to recommend that people take a look at their situation on a yearly basis and if they notice any of the following, they should make an appointment with their Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

1. Change or contemplation of change in Marital status;
2. Death of spouse;
3. You or your spouses' health changes;
4. Death or change in the health or marital status of a trustee, executor, guardian, or beneficiary;
5. If you change your residence or move to another state;
6.. Change in or anticipation of the number of children or grandchildren whether by blood or adoption. Consider step-children also;
7. Any disabilities, health issues, or significant factors on lifestyle of children or grandchildren;
8. If you buy, sell, or contemplate buying or selling a business.
9. Upon the discovery of a hereditary issue that will or might affect you in the future; or
10. Change in tax law or its been more than two years since you reviewed your plan with your attorney.
We offer complimentary Florida Estate Planning reviews for our clients and those who have used another attorney in the past. Our goal is to provide the best protection for your and your family members. We often find that even some of the most expensive estate plans do not take into consideration the divorce or issues with your children. While some of us like our children-in-laws better than our own children, many do not want the future ex-spouse of our children to inherit 1/2 our our child's inheritance.

August 17, 2009

Hurricane Season and Storage of Florida Estate Planning Documents

Florida Estate Planning Documents can be lost during a hurricane or tropical storm. Just when a Florida Will, Power of Attorney, or Florida Living Will, Designation of Health care Surrogate & HIPAA release.

You should protect your original signed documents by keeping them in with in waterproof container and if possible off the floor or at a bank in a safety deposit box A scanned copy of these documents should be keep with your and made available at an off site storage facility like Google or any free document storage provider.

If you home is damaged and is inside a Florida Revocable Trust you may have to provide an original copy of the trust to the insurance company.

As the storm season approaches, it may be a good idea to update your Florida Estate Planning Documents with any changes in your family or financial circumstances so that your documents are up to date with your intentions and your capabilities.

Jacksonville Probate Lawyer, David Goldman has put together a Florida Probate Handbook that is being offered free to readers and visitors of his websites. If you would like a copy, visit the Free Florida Probate Handbook web page, fill out the form, and one will be sent to you within 24 hours by email.

April 11, 2009

Reviewing wills and trust for compliance with Florida Law

While Florida generally recognizes wills created in another state that were valid at the time they were created, it is often a good idea to have your will reviewed by a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer when you move to Florida.

One problem we often run into is that guardians for minor children who reside in Florida must be a close relative or a resident of the state of Florida. Often people designate non-relatives that do not reside in Florida and these are not effective.

While it is possible to create a trust or other legal instrument to allow a non-resident to manage the property of a minor, this should not be done in a will as it may be ineffective.

There are many other issues that arise with a move across state lines. Some states are community property and Florida is not. It is best to have your documents reviewed to make sure that your desires are carried out. There are some wills like holographic wills ( a will that is handwritten by the testator) that may be valid in states like California that Florida will not recognize unless they comply with the Florida Statute of Wills.

Contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer for more information and a review of your documents.

April 9, 2009

HIPAA - Part II What are Advance Health Care Directives and What do they have to do with HIPAA?

Roy Doppelt, a California estate planning lawyer, wrote an article on HIPAA and Advanced Health Car Directives. Much of his information applies to Florida Advanced Health Care directives. Roy states that an Advance Health Care Directive appoints a family member or friend to make health care decisions for you if you become physically or mentally unable to make them for yourself.

The person appointed is your Agent and many people appoint backup agents to help make decisions. We typically draft these documents in conjunction with a living will and a HIPAA release so that your Agent cannot show one document without the other in an attempt to avoid your desires.

July 1, 2008

Google Offers Personal Health Records on the Web

Google Health just began offering personal health records on the Web. They are joining WebMD, Microsoft, and Revolution Health.

These services are designed to help consumers manage their health care and medical spending records.

Google record allows users to send personal information to some clinics or to pull records from the clinic into the Google personal file. One clinic that has begun working with Google is the Cleveland Clinic.

As of the launch, more than two dozen companies announced a partnership with Google Health. Some of the companies include Walgreens, CVS, the American Heart Association, Quest Diagnostics, Beth Israel, Deaconess Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic.

If you plan to subscribe to a service like this make sure you deal with it in your Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney so that the benefit from these services is not lost by your subsequent incapacity.

To discuss how to integrate these services into your Florida Estate planning documents Contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer.

June 24, 2008

Terri Schiavo II?

It could be happening again in Florida, The Palm Beach Post has a report on a similar case. If you do not have a Florida Living Will now is the time to get one.

Karen Weber did not have a Florida Living Will when she suffered a seizure back in November. Her husband wants to disconnect the feeding tube that has kept her alive for the past 7 months.

The courts have not ruled on Ms. Weber's condition and it is Mr. Weber's intent to keep it a private matter.

Who could forget the circus that can arise when such an emotional issue is tried in the court of public opinion.

If you need a living will you can get a free one, I have previously posted a Free Florida Living Will on this site.

If you need help with Florida Estate Planning Documents please Contact a
Florida Estate Planning Lawyer