COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT ADVANCE MEDICAL DIRECTIVES

  1. Is a designation of health care surrogate the same as a living will?
  • No. A healthcare surrogate is able to make decisions about the medical treatments which are not life support; such as medication, tests, choice of hospitals and physicians.  This allows someone whom you have appointed to express your wishes if you are unable to do so.
  • A living will, on the other hand, applies only to life support treatment for a terminal condition from which you are not expected to recover.
  1. What are some of the other things a health care surrogate can do?
  • Apply for health insurance
  • Sign consent forms
  • Provide information and records when needed
  • Prevent or stop unnecessary tests or medication

If you need advice on estate planning or advance medical directives, call the Law Office of Debra G. Simms today at 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

A Dementia Living Will is specifically designed to address advance care planning in cases of dementia.  In order to be effective, the document must be combined with a Designation of Advance Healthcare Surrogate and a Living Will.

For many people with dementia, there can be a number of years between losing the ability to make medical decisions and the point at which a living will would take effect.  Multiple medical issues can occur during those years, and a lack of information leaves your healthcare surrogates unprepared.

The purpose of the Dementia Living Will is to provide information to your health care surrogate in case you develop dementia.  It is intended to serve as a communication tool so your surrogate is aware of your medical choices regarding medical issues that are common during dementia.

The document can be completed by anyone over the age of 18 and is particularly helpful for those who are concerned about a diagnosis of dementia in the future and those individuals who have been diagnosed with early dementia are still capable of making their own medical choices.

Disclaimer:  If properly drafted and executed with witnesses the document should comply with Florida law.  However, with any new legal document, there may be some legal issues.   In the case of any challenge to legality, a signed and witnessed documents will provide a presumption of “clear and convincing evidence of the principal’s wishes”.

The Law Office of Debra G. Simms now offers a Dementia Living Will.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

Getting Your Affairs in Order

Making healthcare decisions for yourself or someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming.  That is why I recommend that my clients make decisions and arrangements while they can participate in legal and financial planning.

I have created a checklist to ensure that your healthcare and financial arrangements are in place before a serious illness or a healthcare crisis.

  • START DISCUSSIONS EARLY with your family and friends.
  • CREATE DOCUMENTS that communicate healthcare, financial management, and end of life wishes and instructions. Get the legal advice needed to do so.
  • REVIEW PLANS REGULARLY, and update your documents as your circumstances change.
  • ORGANIZE YOUR PAPERS IN ONE PLACE. Make sure a trusted family member or friend knows the location.
  • MAKE COPIES OF healthcare directives for all the physicians you regularly see.
  • REDUCE ANXIETY for yourself and your loved ones by making funeral and burial arrangements ahead.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

This week is National Health Care Decision Week.  It is a perfect time to think about making sure you have someone who can legally make health care decisions for you if you become ill and lack the mental capacity to make your own decisions.

In Florida, this is done with a legal document called an Advance Medical Directive.  My office routinely prepares these documents for clients and they include the Designation of Health Care Surrogate, the HIPPA Release, and the Living Will.

These documents should give the person you name as your surrogate the authority to obtain your medical information and make any and all health care decisions for you in accordance with your values and moral beliefs.  The Living Will allows you to make decisions about withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining treatment at the end of life when there is no probability of recovery.

These documents are state-specific and it is important that you have Florida documents if you are a new resident of Florida.  Documents should also be updated if your decisions change or if you need to name new surrogates.

You should provide a copy of these documents to each of your doctors and you should also give a copy to anyone who would likely be called in an emergency.  I also recommend that you take a copy with you when you travel.

To minimize any confusion or doubt about your wishes or the surrogate’s authority, the documents should be as specific and explicit as possible.  One size does not fit all.  Do not use online or form documents.  They may not be valid in Florida and even they are valid, they might not contain all the language you need for your specific wishes to be carried out.

Finally, your situation might be unique.  I can customize your documents to address any concerns you might have about particular procedures, such as artificial hydration, feeding tubes, chemical treatment, and invasive diagnostic tests.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

National Health Care Decisions Day is April 16th.  This day is designated by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) to inspire, educate, and empower the public about the importance of advance care planning.

Advance care planning involves making future healthcare decisions which involves selecting an agent to express your healthcare decisions if you are unable to speak for yourself, and also allows you to express your preferences and clarify your values.

Advance care planning starts with “The Conversation” – talking about your health care concerns with your loved ones, health care providers, and even your friends.  These conversations will relieve your loved ones with the need to guess what you would want if you are facing a medical crisis.

Next, you need to complete your Advance Directives.  In Florida, these are called Advance Health Care Directives, HIPPA Releases, and Living Wills.

These documents are state-specific and are designed to meet each state’s statutory requirements.  If your legal documents were prepared out of state, you should meet with a Florida attorney to discuss whether new documents should be completed.  The documents will do you no good if your doctor or hospital will not honor them.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

 

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

 

 

I am often asked to review client’s existing medical directives.  (sometimes called a Health Care Power of Attorney or Designation of Health Care Surrogate)

They don’t always work.

Here are the most common problems with these documents:

  • The document was created in another state and does not follow the Florida laws
  • The document does not contain HIPPA law language (the privacy law)
  • The client’s preferences have changed but the documents have not been updated
  • The document designates agents (substitute decision makers) who might not be alive or able to do the job
  • The document is vague or ambiguous and can easily be misinterpreted by the family or medical personnel
  • The document does not discuss certain modern medical interventions that the client might or might not want
  • The Living Will does not contain a provision regarding the use of feeding tubes and hydration when the patient is dying

And here is another problem that has nothing to do at all with the paper it is written on:  Many people may feel that creating and signing an advance directive means they can avoid awkward conversations with family members about their health care wishes.  The actual result may then be that the document is not helpful at all in a medical crisis.

Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882

This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.

 

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
629 N. Dixie HWY
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667

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