Living Will or Health Care Surrogate: Which Do You Need?

August 20, 2020

With the impressive amount of modern advancements and innovations in medical technology, the need for living Wills and health care surrogacy documents has increased dramatically. This is an especially sensitive and delicate area of estate planning, but it is still vitally important for avoiding long, protracted, and painful fights in court. This blog will provide a general overview of the two documents available to ensure your wishes are followed if you reach incapacity.

Living Will

If you have ever had to visit an emergency room, they have probably asked you whether or not you had a living Will. This is a document in which you can lay out your desires when it comes to medical treatments and life-prolonging measures. It is important to do this because if you are ever in a situation where a doctor has determined that you are incapacitated, you are legally (and mentally or physically) unable to communicate your wishes. If your condition is terminal, you have the right to refuse certain life-prolonging measures (like receiving artificial nutrition or hydration).

What is a Health Care Surrogate, and How is it Different From a Living Will?

A health care surrogate is the other estate-planning document through which you can make your end-of-life wishes known ahead of time. The key difference between the two legal instruments is that a health care surrogate, though an official document, is actually a person who is empowered to make decisions about certain medical decisions for you.

Your health care surrogate should be someone you trust 100 percent to execute your wishes and always have your best interests in mind. Many spouses choose the other one to act as a health care surrogate. Other individuals opt to have a sibling or child fulfill this important responsibility. In addition to being empowered to cease life-prolonging measures, a health care surrogate is able to access personal medical documents in order to make informed decisions.

Similarities Between These Two Legal Documents

Essentially, a health care surrogate and living Will both have the same aim in mind: to make sure your exact wishes regarding your end-of-life medical care are followed. While the execution is slightly different, each one is codified in the Florida Statutes Chapter 765. Both must be signed in the presence of two witnesses (one of whom is not a spouse or blood relative), and both can be revoked at any time through multiple ways.


No doubt about it: pondering your own mortality is uncomfortable (to say the least). However, the temporary uneasiness will soon give way to peace of mind and certainty. Also, having the right attorney to help you through the process is just as important! Schlegel Livingston, LLC is proud to work with each client to come up with the best estate plan possible, and we would be honored to do the same for you. Get in touch with us today by calling 954-771-8929 and receive a free consultation!