Living Wills & Advanced Directives
As we come together during the COVID19 pandemic, it’s been a reminder to many how important it is to make sure that our affairs are in order. Legal documents such as living wills, DNR’s, advanced directives and general wills can provide security and peace of mind. Living wills and wills focus on directives for your healthcare, your children and family as well as your finances. Living wills, general wills and advanced directives are an important step in making sure that your wishes or the wishes of your loved ones are respected should you fall ill or in the event of an accident. Tampa family law attorney Nilo J Sanchez & Associates can assist you with the preparation of these documents to make sure that the proper language is used so that your exact wishes are respected in the event of illness or death.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a statement of your health care wishes but it can also address religious considerations, personal preferences and other matters pertaining to your wishes and directives such as:
- DNR’s – DNR means “Do Not Resuscitate.” Simply put, a DNR Instructs health care providers what not to do in the event that a patient stops breathing or their heart stops beating. This can include measures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or other heroic life saving measures. If you already have a DNR, it is important that the language in your DNR is correct, up-to-date and specific. Without a DNR, a medical professional is obligated to take life saving measures that you or your family may not want.
- Healthcare Proxies – A healthcare proxy is a legal document that permits another person or “agent” to make health care decisions for you, if you are unable to do so.
- HIPAA Releases – Similar and in conjunction with a healthcare proxy, HIPAA releases allows your “agent” or designated healthcare proxy to communicate with physicians and medical professionals on your behalf. Without this, HIPAA laws prevent anyone including family members to obtain information or aid in the release of information should it be necessary to do so.
Durable Power of attorney – A power of attorney is separate from healthcare proxies and is a legal document that is generally specific to financial decisions that would need to be made on your behalf should you be unable to do so.
- Will – Wills are legal documents that provide legal and binding directives that designate guardians for your children, and provide instructions as to how your assets will be distributed in the event of your death. Other general wishes can also be included in your will.
Reviewing Your Current Wills & Directives
It is recommended that you periodically review and update your current documents and directives to ensure that the language is correct. Over time, things change so it’s important that you have your family law attorney review your existing documents to ensure that the proper language is used, and designated agents are up to date, especially in your DNR and advanced directives. Perhaps your children are grown and you haven’t updated your will, or there have been other changes in your circumstances that would warrant an updated will. If this is the case, please reach out to Nilo J Sanchez & Associates to review your current documents.
Young or Old, Living Wills are Important to Secure
It’s difficult for some to address these matters but we can’t stress enough the importance of doing so. Whether old or young, having a living will is crucial. If you are a young adult, you may think that your finances dictate whether you should have a will. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is never too soon for young adults to make sure that they have their affairs in order and especially to have the proper legal documents in place that will make your wishes known to your health care providers. This will make it easier on them, your family members and loved ones in the event of a catastrophic health care crisis or in the event of your death. Most importantly it ensures that your health care wishes are carried out in a manner that reflects your exact wishes.