When Florida lawyers use the term “advance directives”, what do we mean? Advance Directives is the umbrella term that describes documents that you put in place before you become incapacitated that are designed to speak for you if you do become incapacitated. These documents include:
Health Care Surrogate
The health care surrogate is the person who talks to the doctor and makes medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
The only job for the living will is to state whether you do or do not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
Do Not Resuscitate Order (“DNR”)
The Do Not Resuscitate Order is a medical order that is put in place by your doctor, not your lawyer. The DNR states that your do not want to receive CPR.
Durable Power of Attorney (“DPOA”)
Your agent under your durable power of attorney, in general, handles anything that needs to be done for you that is not medical in nature.
However, Florida has very strict requirements as to what language has to be included in your durable power of attorney to allow your agent to take certain actions on your behalf. If this language is not included in your durable power of attorney (and in many cases also initialed by you), then your agent cannot take those actions for you and your family may have to start a court guardianship proceeding to have a guardian appointed to take those specific actions on your behalf.
Who To Choose As Your Agent For Your Advance Directives
Choose your agents carefully and wisely. You are giving them the power to make health and financial decisions for you as if they were you. They have to be people that you trust unconditionally to do the right thing for you.