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Understanding Healthcare Directives & POA for Seniors

3 women smilingAlthough it might be unpleasant to think about, making plans for end-of-life care is important to do long before you need it.

Healthcare directives and power of attorney agreements can help empower your family or close friends to act on your behalf if you’re unable to make those decisions.

Advance healthcare directives are arrangements that will serve as a statement of your wishes about your medical care.

Types of advance healthcare directives include:

  • A living will – A written or oral statement that declares the type of medical care you want or don’t want. It can take effect while you’re still living, hence the name “living” will.
  • A healthcare surrogate designation – This document names another person as your representative to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to for yourself. It can detail what types of care you want or do not want. It can be used in replacement for, or as a supplement to, a living will.
  • An anatomical donation – This document outlines your wishes for donating your body or parts of your body to people in need or for training purposes.

Although there’s no legal requirement in Florida to complete an advance directive, if you don’t, your next of kin may be unaware of your wishes. An attorney doesn’t need to prepare these documents, but it may be helpful to consult with them.

You can visit www.myflorida.com and enter Living Will or Health Care Surrogate forms into the upper left search box to obtain printable PDFs of these documents.

In addition to advance healthcare directives, you’ll also want to file a power of attorney. Much like a living will, this document will help your loved ones make decisions on your behalf. In this case, the decisions are related to legal and financial matters. However, unlike advance healthcare directives, a power of attorney does require help from a lawyer. For more from the Florida Bar, please see the Florida Power of Attorney Pamphlet.