Aging With Dignity And The Five Wishes

What are the” five wishes” we all keep hearing about when the topic of making a will comes up?

Recently one of my clients told me that his doctor was insistent that he draw up the Five Wishes in order to make proper arrangements for his family after his passing.

Five Wishes is a document that was originally circulated in 1997 by a non-profit organization devoted to health and health care issues. In the document you can let your family and your doctor know your wishes about:


    1. Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them


    1. The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want


    1. How comfortable you want to be


    1. How you want people to treat you


    1. What you want your loved ones to know

Now I have nothing against these forms. If nothing else, they will get you thinking about difficult end of life decisions. But, understand, the Five Wishes is NOT a legal document in Florida or most other states. In Florida, these types of decisions must be made in a legal document that is governed by law. They are commonly known as Advance Health Care Directives or Living Wills. They must be witnessed to be valid. And, the ones I prepare deal with all sorts of issues, such as the HIPPA privacy laws, whether or not you would want a feeding tube even if it would only serve to prolong life, etc.

My point is this: Don’t rely on the Five Wishes as your legal documents for health care decisions. If you complete the form, you still need valid Florida documents which will be honored by your health care providers.

My office prepares Advance Health Care Directives and Living Wills for a very affordable and reasonable cost. Everyone, of all ages, should have them.

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