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Frequently Asked Questions About Advance Directives

An advance directive is a legal document that enables you to state your preferences when it comes to medical care. In case you are incapacitated or otherwise incapable of making your own healthcare decisions, an advance directive offers instructions for specific scenarios — particularly those related to end-of-life care.

Below are answers to some of the common questions we receive about advance directives:

What is a healthcare proxy?

This advance directive allows you to name another person (and an alternate) who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to make them yourself. Your proxy (or agent) can either make all your healthcare decisions or just specific ones, depending on the wishes you outline in the document.

What is a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?

A DNR order is one of the most common examples of an advance directive. This order is directed toward physicians and emergency medical personnel to not perform CPR if your heart or breathing stops. This order is typically only issued by people who are already seriously or terminally ill — healthy people usually do not have DNR orders in effect.

Do I need to renew advance directives?

Your advance directives will not expire, and so you do not need to renew them. However, it is a good idea to review them periodically to make sure they still account for all your current wishes.

Who should have access to my advance directives?

Always keep the original document for your own purposes and provide copies to your healthcare proxy, your attorney, the hospital and immediate family members. The contents of your advance directives should never be a surprise to others.

Do advance directive documents need to be notarized?

In some cases, yes. A living will, for example, must be signed by two witnesses, at least one of whom must not be related to you by blood. Your estate planning attorney can provide you with additional information regarding witness and notarization requirements.

To learn more about advance directives, speak with a trusted Florida estate planning attorney at The Charles Law Offices.

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