“How Important is it to Have my Will, Medical POA and DNR?”

The short answer is having a Will is very important. In the state of Florida, there are certain requirements for the courts and medical providers that are important for your healthcare now, and your legacy after you pass away. LAST WILL AND TESTAMENTListed below are a few of the important documents that you should have done, or at the very least look into getting.

There are numerous trusts, wills, power of attorneys, as well as important medical documentation that is very important to have in place. One reason it is so important is you don’t want the State in charge of what is left of your estate. With no documentation from you stating what your wishes are, it will go to Probate and can take years to resolve. If something were to happen to you, who is your voice?  Make you your voice by making a Last Will and Testament.

An Eldercare Attorney is the one to speak to regarding the legal documents such as trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and making sure your wishes are carried out. Here are a few tips to remember when planning.

Last Will and Testaments: Florida Will Requirements

  1. You must be 18. The individual must be of sound mind. If the document they are signing, isn’t understood by the individual signing it, then the will is invalid. Children under 18 generally cannot make a will due to the complexity of what they are signing.
  2. Must be in writing. The writing can be typed or handwritten. Oral wills are not valid in Florida.
  3. Must be signed by the individual whose will is being written. If they cannot sign the will, they can appoint someone else to sign for them. If someone else is appointed, that appointed person cannot also be a witness.
  4. The individuals’ signature must be at the end of the will. If the signature appears earlier in the will, the will could be found invalid under Florida law.
  5. The individual must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses. Technically, any competent person can be a witness. It is not a good idea for the witness to be related to the individual writing the will or to be a beneficiary of the will. It could be contested by others listed in the will that the witness, who is also a beneficiary to your will had undue influence on the individual. The witnesses and the individual should sign a self-proving affidavit which is typically made part of the will at the conclusion of the document. The self-proving affidavit makes probating the will a much easier process. It eliminates the requirement that the witnesses testify in the probate proceeding as to the authenticity of the will.
  6. The two witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the individual and in the presence of each other. Each witness and the individual must all be in the room together and sign at the same time.

Medical Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney (POA) is important, especially if you have health issues and might need a family member or friend be in charge of your medical decisions. It is very important that the I person you choose is aware of your wishes, and know where you keep the document if they weren’t given a copy. With any documents, your beneficiaries should know where they are being kept in the event, they need to access them. A home safe, safety deposit box, a drawer in the living room, it doesn’t matter. It is important to know where it is located.

In order to get a Medical POA in the State of Florida the following is required: To become the medical power of attorney (Health Care Surrogate) or to appoint a person to become your medical power of attorney in Florida, you must complete a Florida Medical Power of Attorney Form, also commonly referred to as the “Florida Designation of Health Care Surrogate.” In Florida, your Medical POA needs to be signed by you and two witnesses. It is recommended that one of two witnesses shouldn’t be related to you. You don’t need to have your medical POA notarized.

In the event that there is no power of attorney or health care surrogate designation signed, then you can rely on the Florida Health Care Proxy statute. Spouses, by law, are allowed to make medical decisions for their spouses when they’re incapacitated and no other documentation exists. If you are a widow, a Medical POA is a document you should think about getting. There are many forms online that are free to use, but it is suggested you use an Elder Law attorney or an Estate attorney. They are both adequate, however, while Estate Planning centers on executing your wishes regarding the distribution of assets after you pass away, Elder Law concerns your legal rights as you age. It is an individual choice.

Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR)

A Do Not Resuscitate or DNR is a medical document that is signed by your doctor. A DNR can be ordered by a physician when it is expressly requested by the patient or, if a patient is not able to express his or her wishes, by the patient’s surrogate or proxy.  According to Florida law, a DNR order is only to be used 1. when the patient is capacitated and specifically requests an order during a particular hospitalization or 2. when the patient is incapacitated without the possibility of recovering. Hospice patients almost ALWAYS have a DNR order. If you have a loved one on hospice, and you are going to assist take care of them, the location of the DNR is imperative.

Individuals that have ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease or a form of dementia, usually have a DNR order signed by their doctor. If the person is in an assisted living or rehab facility, the order should be posted in their room for when paramedics arrive. At the very least, it needs to be in the chart and pulled out to show the first responders, so no CPR is initiated. Without seeing that form, it is their responsibility to perform CPR if the individual isn’t breathing or is unresponsive. All paramedics know that if there is a DNR order, no CPR or recusation can be done can be performed.

If the person is in their home, it should still be posted, however, If you have a caregiver, let them know and the company they work for know where it is in the house. It is equally important that all family members know where it is located and that you have one in case they are visiting and 911 needs to be called. If an individual has a DNR, it is for a reason. It is a personal choice, and family and friends should try to not let their personal beliefs interfere with the decision of having a DNR. If you have any questions or concerns about yourself getting a DNR order, speak to your physician.

Having the proper documents in place such as Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, and DNR’s are very important. Keep your decision-making power and get the documents you need in order. These documents aren’t just important for seniors either. We all know that anything can happen to anyone at any age at any time. Be prepared, keep your wishes and control over what you want to happen. You have the opportunity to be your own voice. There are many Elder Law Attorneys that will come to you at your house, or if you live in an assisted living. Some bring their own notary and can assist you in how to make your final decisions your decisions.

If you would like a referral to a couple of Elder Law Attorneys please don’t hesitate to call us at Paradise Home Health Care at 561-672-7170. Paradise doesn’t make any commission or get a referral fee. It’s one of the many community outreach services that we offer.

Reference https://flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2019/Chapter732/Part_V