One of the fundamental documents of estate planning is a will, which allows you to name heirs and divide your property among them as you see fit. However, a living will is another essential document, and it gives you the tools to maintain control over your medical care even if an injury or illness incapacitates you.
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, a living will is a type of advance directive that allows you to state your medical decisions ahead of time so doctors and family members may follow them if you become unable to make or express them.
Living will basics
As the name suggests, a living will takes effect while you are still alive. For example, if you become unable to communicate due to an injury, a medical professional may use your living will to determine whether you agree to certain types of treatment, such as artificial nutrition, surgery or prescription medications. You may work together with your health care provider and/or your close family members to determine what you want to include in your living will.
Additional advance directives
There are other advance directives you may want to create in addition to a living will. For example, you may fill out an anatomical donation form if you want to donate your body after you die. You may choose to give your organs to people who need them or to donate your body for use in training medical students.
Another type of advanced directive is a health care surrogate designation. This document allows you to name a trusted person who will make medical decisions and authorize treatment if you are unable to do so. The Agency for Health Care Administration provides samples of each type of advance directive.