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Living Wills & Healthcare Surrogates


Your estate planning package should include signing a document referred to as a Living Will combined with a Healthcare Surrogate Designation. A living will is essentially an advance directive that allows you to state your wishes for end-of-life medical care if you are unable to later do so. A heathcare surrogate can be compared to a medical power of attorney but for this instrument, the designation may have specific relevance.


Despite the similarity in name, a living will is quite different than a Last Will and Testament. While a will only becomes effective after someone dies and it is admitted to probate, a living will (when properly signed and notarized) becomes effective immediately. Further, a will disposes of someone's property while a living will provides guidance on or reflects a person's decision as to end-of-life medical care and treatment.

The two specific medical situations addressed in the living will deal when an individual is unable to breath on his own and is required to be placed on a mechanical ventilator to live or when a person requires all food and fluids to be supplied intravenously or by a feeding tube. For each of these conditions, you will have the opportunity to accept or reject the use of artificial means or supplemental methods to keep you alive by selecting the appropriate designation.


In addition to, or perhaps in lieu of making your own selection as to certain end-of-life care decisions, you can also appoint and designate someone as your healthcare surrogate to make decisions on your behalf in a living will. This individual may be a close relative such as your spouse, a family member, or a friend. You can even designate more than one person or alternates to act on your behalf if it would be in your best interest to do so.

Since a living will is essential to every estate plan, if you need help in having one prepared, please contact us online or call today at 502-558-8576.

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