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What is a health care directive, and why have one?

Many times, when a Florida resident goes to the doctor's office or has to be admitted to a hospital, he or she will be asked whether they have formally created plan for their health care. While over 90 percent of those asked believe that it is important to have a health care directive, only about 30 percent can answer that question positively. Perhaps that is because many people do not fully understand what a heath care directive is and why they need one. 

The advance health care directive, or living will, is a legal document that allows the maker to specify his or her exact wishes concerning health and end-of-life care should the maker be unable to communicate those decisions because of illness or incapacity. With this document, the maker can designate what he or she wants in those circumstances when it comes to health care. Also, friends and family can have a clear understanding of what the person wants to be done in life-threatening situations, or when he or she is not able to communicate.

Before an advance health care directive is drafted, it is a good idea to speak with family and friends. This gives everyone the chance to understand exactly what the person has decided about his or her present and future health care. The directive should also be reviewed from time to time to make sure that it still accurately reflects the individual's wishes.

Anyone in Florida who wishes to complete a health care directive will want to consult with an estate planning attorney. The lawyer can make sure that the person understands what is required and help prepare the document in accordance with applicable laws and procedures. Once completed, the maker can feel secure in knowing that his or her wishes will be fulfilled.

Source: wsaw.com, "The Doctor Is In: Planning for the future, the importance of advance directives", June 18, 2017

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