• Mark Moss

Living Wills and the COVID-19 Pandemic: What Do You Need to Know?

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused unprecedented changes to our way of life, and it has caused many people to think carefully about their life plans. In particular, the risk of facing serious – or even fatal – complications in the event of a COVID-19 diagnosis is leading many people to make sure that their living wills adequately address the risks associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

What is a Living Will?

A living will is not what most people think. When most people think of a will, they are thinking of a “last will.” This is the document used to distribute assets (and address various other estate-related issues) after death. A “living will” is a document that is used to address healthcare-related needs during a person’s lifetime.

Living Wills specify individuals’ desires with regard to life-sustaining treatment in the event that they become incapacitated and are unable to communicate with their doctors. This would include, for example, contracting COVID-19 and needing to be placed on a ventilator. Section 765.302 of the Florida Statutes states:

“Any competent adult may, at any time, make a living will or written declaration and direct the providing, withholding, or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures in the event that such person has a terminal condition, has an end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state.”

Typically, living wills are written broadly, and the Florida Statutes even provide a sample living will form that addresses the need for life-sustaining treatment in general. This approach is intended to ensure that a person’s living will applies in as many circumstances as possible, and it works in most cases. However, with the unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the potential for hospital bed and ventilator shortages, many people are finding it desirable to add provisions to their living wills that relate specifically to the possibility of a COVID-19 diagnosis.

If I Am Diagnosed with COVID-19, Will My Living Will Apply?

Generally speaking, there are two conditions that must be met in order for a living will to apply. These are (i) incapacitation, and (ii) being diagnosed with one of the following:

  • A terminal condition,

  • An “end-stage” condition, or

  • A persistent vegetative state.

As a result, whether a COVID-19 diagnosis will require consideration of a person’s living will depend on the particular facts and circumstances involved. In the vast majority of cases, COVID-19 is not life-threatening; and, in these cases, patients’ living wills are not going to be relevant. However, if you or a loved one suffers serious, life-threatening complications and becomes unable to communicate, then having a living will that provides clear direction could prove essential to avoiding difficult decisions about life-sustaining care.

Discuss Your Living Will with Florida Life Planning Attorney Mark F. Moss

If you have questions about preparing a living will (or updating your current living will) during the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida life planning attorney Mark F. Moss can explain everything you need to know. To schedule a confidential consultation at your convenience, call us at 904-329-7242 or tell us how we can help online today.


© 2020 by Law Offices of Mark F Moss, PLLC

301 W. Bay Street, Suite 1493,

Jacksonville, FL 32202

Your privacy is important to us. We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site. We only have access to information you voluntarily give us via e-mail or other direct contacts from you. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.

We will use your information to respond to you only, regarding the reason you contacted us. We will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as necessary to fulfill your request. Unless you ask us not to, we may contact you via e-mail in the future to tell you about our new services, specials, or changes to this privacy policy. If you want to unsubscribe from our newsletter or e-mails regarding new services, specials, or changes to this privacy policy you can unsubscribe when you receive our correspondences, or e-mail me at, from the e-mail address you wish to unsubscribed with. You can also send us a letter to unsubscribe at 301 W. Bay Street, #1490, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Again please make sure you tell us the e-mail address you subscribed with.