Advanced Planning

When planning for one’s future, it is important to consider not only what your needs will be as you age but also what your needs might be if you become ill or injured.

  • Who will make decisions about your health care?
  • Who will take care of your finances?
  • If you need long-term care, how will you pay for it?

Advanced Directives – tell your doctors what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decision on your own. By creating an advance directive, you are making your preferences about medical care known before you are faced with a serious injury or illness. This will spare your loved ones the stress of making decisions about your care while you are sick.

Common tools used with Advanced Planning:

  • Living Will – A living will is a document detailing your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures in the event of three conditions in Florida: an end stage condition, terminal condition, and a persistent vegetative state.. It expresses what you want to happen but does not give anyone the authority to speak for you. A Living Will does not replace the need for a health care surrogate or durable medical power of attorney.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows one person (the principal) to name another person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) to act on his or her behalf . The Principal can authorize the Attorney-in-Fact to perform specific duties or a broad range of duties. These duties may include handling finances, handling insurance claims and government benefits, buying, selling, or managing property, or other tasks. The durable power of attorney stays in effect even if the principal becomes physically or mentally incapacitated. An elder law specialist should be consultant when creating a durable power of attorney
  • Health Care Surrogate Designation or Health Care Power of Attorney – is a powerful document that can be used by the person you name (your surrogate) to assist you when you are unable to make your own medical decisions.
  • A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNRO) is a physician’s order to NOT perform CPR and is followed by medical personnel including emergency personnel during transportation to the hospital. A DNRO must be signed by you or your legal representative and a physician. The pre-hospital DNRO is a specific yellow form. When it appears that such an order is appropriate, the medical staff often approaches the individual or family about a DNRO. When a Do Not Resuscitate Order has been created, copies should be put in the person’s medical files as well as given to family members.

Living Will

A living will communicates your will about care intended to sustain life, whether or not you want to accept or refuse medical care.


When creating a Living Will there are many issues to consider such as:

1.Whether or not you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops or you stop breathing.

2. Whether or not to use dialysis or breathing machines.

3. Whether to use or not to use a feeding tube.

4. Your desire for organ or tissue donation

What is an anatomical donation?

The wish to donate all or part of your body when you die can be included in a Living Will. An individual may wish to be an organ donor for a person in need or choose to donate their entire body for training of health care workers. The desire to be an organ donor can also be listed on a person’s drivers’ license or identification card.

What should I do with my advanced directive?

Make sure that your health care provider, attorney, and the significant people in your life know that you have an advanced directive and where it is kept. Keep a card in your wallet stating that you have an advanced directive and where it is located.