A concern shared by many Palm Beach County residents is to be able to control decisions about the health care they receive and end-of-life decisions in the event they are unable to make them for themselves. State assists them by recognizing the right of a person to prepare a written declaration in which they appoint a surrogate to make decisions for them if they are incapable of making them on their own.

A living will is not a last will and testament by which a person may designate beneficiaries to share in the estate he or she leaves after death. Living wills designate a person to make health care decisions, including decisions about the use of extraordinary measures to prolong the maker’s life when stricken by a terminal illness or injury.

The maker of a living will must sign the document in front of two witnesses who must also sign it. Living wills made in another state will be recognized as valid and enforceable in Florida as long as they were prepared and executed in accordance with the laws of the other state.

Any adult who is of sound mind may act as a surrogate under a living will. It is a good idea to select someone who can be trusted to follow the wishes of the maker and who will not be reluctant to make what can be difficult decisions.

This posting is an overview of a complex area of the law, but it is not offered as legal advice. Posts of this type are not a substitute for the legal advice about living wills and will planning that should only be sought from a Florida estate planning attorney.