Articles Posted in Living Will

Life is full of instances where taking a decision seems to be extremely challenging. The task is even more difficult if the decision concerns the medical treatment for a loved one that is incapable of deciding for him or her self. Deciding health care matters for patients that cannot do so is emotionally wrenching for families and represents an ethical dilemma for physicians. This difficult scenario is better illustrated with the Terri Schiavo case.

Terry Schiavo Sad Case.

Ms. Schiavo was sustained by artificial hydration and nutrition through a feeding tube for 15 years after suffering a cardiac arrest, triggered by extreme hypokalemia caused by an eating disorder. Ms. Schiavo’s husband, Michael Schiavo, faced a public legal struggle with his wife’s parents and siblings about whether Ms. Schiavo’s life-sustaining medical treatment should be continued or stopped. Mr. Schiavo and the two neurologists that he selected to testify in court stood for the position that Ms. Schiavo’s condition met the criteria for a persistent vegetative state and believed that her treatment should be stopped. Ms. Schiavo’s parents, siblings and the neurologists testifying in court for Ms. Schiavo’s estate stood for the position that Ms. Schiavo’s condition could improve in the future and believed that treatment should be continued.

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:

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

EPPN.jpgDavid Goldman of Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC, 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.

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;

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