What’s the Difference Between a Healthcare Surrogate Designation and a Living Will?

What’s the Difference Between a Healthcare Surrogate Designation and a Living Will?

A healthcare surrogate designation and a living will are two different kinds of advance directives you can include in your estate plan. But while the functions they serve are similar in a sense, the ways they operate are quite different.

The following is an overview of each to give you an idea of what they are for and how they are different.

Healthcare surrogate

A healthcare surrogate sometimes called something a little different is some states) is a document that appoints a person of your choice who will be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. This is also occasionally referred to as a durable power of attorney for healthcare. This person’s power to make these decisions goes into effect only when you are unable to make them yourself.

Obviously, this is a lot of responsibility to grant to another person, so you must ensure you have given plenty of thought to who your proxy will be. This person must have a thorough understanding of your healthcare wishes in a variety of situations, including resuscitation, artificial hydration and nutrition, and other standards you have for quality of life.

Having a healthcare surrogate in place will help you ensure any decisions made for your healthcare will be based on your own wishes and values.

Living will

Like a healthcare surrogate designation, a living will is a document meant to provide some assistance with the kinds of medical treatments you receive while incapacitated. However, rather than appointing a person who makes those decisions, the document thoroughly outlines all of your wishes for the doctors to follow.

Living wills allow you to articulate the kinds of extraordinary medical treatments and life-saving care you do and do not want, but in some cases they can be a bit too narrow to be applied to certain medical situations.

Ultimately, having a healthcare surrogate and a living will in place will allow you to not only list the types of care you do and do not want, but also have someone who knows you well enough to interpret the kind of care you would want in situations not covered by a living will.

For more information and guidance on setting up a healthcare surrogate designation or a living will, contact an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney with BaumannKangas Estate Law.