There are several important things to know about estate planning. To start, there are three documents that are necessary to review and consider.
- Power of Attorney
- The Living Will / Health Care Surrogate
- The DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)
The Living Will / Health Care Surrogate
Questions to answer for a healthcare surrogate:
– Who will make medical decisions?
– What are your wishes for life-sustaining treatment?
Choosing an agent:
– An agent must be 18 years of age and someone who knows you and who you believe will honor and respect your values and wishes even if they are different from their own. A spouse is not automatically recognized as a patient’s advocate in Florida. The agent you appoint may be a family member, a friend, or even your attorney.
– If you do not have anyone to appoint as an agent you can still complete the instructions for your care and this will provide your doctors with information to guide your care.
Exactly what does my agent do?
– Your agent will make decisions for you per your instructions.
– Your agent can choose your doctor, and where you receive your care, speak with your health care team, review your medical record and authorize its release, accept and refuse medical treatments and make arrangements for you when you die.
– The new HIPAA Laws require written permission for family members to obtain your medical records.
DEVELOPING A HEALTH CARE PLAN INVOLVES DISCUSSING YOUR WISHES WITH THE PEOPLE YOU TRUST. THINK ABOUT IT! TALK IT OVER!
THE DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)
A pre-hospital Do-Not-Resuscitate form allows people to indicate that they do not want CPR started if something happens to them outside of the hospital. Normally, emergency medical personnel are required to start CPR for all persons. Having this form, however, protects people from CPR if they wish to forgo it.
It’s important to understand the difference between the DNR and the living will. The DNR form specifies if the patient does not want to be resuscitated. A Living Will, however, designates whether the patient wants life support continued if they are incapacitated and in a “terminal condition”, an “end stage condition”, or in a “persistent vegetative state”.
Note – The DNR form must be signed in advance by your doctor and printed on yellow paper in order to be valid.