Loretta Schoen – Under HIS Wings

Discover the Other Side of Medical Adversity from Being Pressed to Feeling Blessed

What You Should know About Advance Directives

  1. Check to be sure that you have the materials for each state in which you may receive healthcare.  For the purposes of this post, the information is based on Florida law.
  2. Photocopy or print a second set of these forms before you start so you will have a clean copy if you need to start over.
  3. Talk with family, friends, and physicians about your advance directive. Be sure the person you appoint to make decisions on your behalf understands your wishes.
  4. Once the form is completed and signed, photocopy the form and give it to the person you have appointed to make decisions on your behalf, your family, friends, health care providers and/or faith leaders so that the form is available in the event of an emergency.
  5. You may also want to save a copy of your form in an online personal health record or service that allows you to share your medical documents with your physicians, family, and others who you want to take an active role in your advance care planning.

Questions regarding Advance Directives:

Whom should you appoint as your surrogate?  They can be a family member, or close friend.  Who you appoint should clearly understand your wishes and be willing to accept the responsibility of making health care decisions for you.

How do I make my Florida Advance Directive legal? The law requires that you sign your Advance Directive in the presence of two adult witnesses, who must also sign the document.  If you are physically unable to sign, you may have someone sign for you in your presence and at your direction and in the presence of the two witnesses.  Your surrogate and alternate surrogate cannot act as witnesses to this document.  At least one of your witnesses must not be your spouse or blood relative.  NOTE:  You do not need to notarize your Florida Advance Directive.  

 Should I add personal instructions to my Florida Advance Directive?  One of the strongest reasons for naming a surrogate is to have someone who can respond flexibly as your medical situation changes and deal with situations that you did not foresee.  If you add instructions it may help your surrogate carry out your wishes, but be careful that you do not unintentionally restrict your surrogate’s power to act in your best interest.  In any event, be sure to talk with your surrogate about your future medical care and describe what you consider to be an acceptable “quality of life.”

What if I change my mind?  You can always revoke your Florida Advance Directive in the following ways:

  1. Through a signed and dated writing showing your intent to revoke.
  2. Physically destroying the original
  3. Orally expressing your intent to revoke
  4. By executing a new Advance Directive that supersedes the older document.

What other facts should I know?  If you would like to give your surrogate the authority to refuse life-prolonging treatment for you in the even that you become terminally ill and incompetent while you are pregnant, you must add an instruction such as, “My surrogate has the authority to order the withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging treatment, even if I am pregnant.”

Also, unless you expressly state otherwise under the additional instructions, your health care surrogate, if you appoint one, does not have authority to authorize abortion, sterilization, electroshock therapy, psycho-surgery, experimental treatments, or voluntary admission to a mental health facility.