A FIRM DEDICATED TO ELDER LAW AND SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING

Living Wills and Health Care Surrogates

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WILL AND A LIVING WILL?

 

A will, or Last Will and Testament as it is sometimes called, is a document under which a person transfers ownership of his or her property to another individual after his or her death. A Living Will is a right given from one person to another to discontinue life support and permit the person to die naturally.

 

 

WHAT IS A HEALTH CARE SURROGATE?

 

A Health Care Surrogate is a document which grants another person the power to make health care decisions for the benefit of the person granting the power. Those decisions can be as specific as the grantor of the power wants or as general as desired. Certain types of medical procedures can be prohibited in the document or expanded to include experimental procedures.

 

 

CAN A LIVING WILL SPECIFY WHEN LIFE PROLONGING PROCEDURES CAN BE TERMINATED?

 

Yes. Since modern medicine is able to keep people alive even if they are brain dead, most people do not wish to live without some quality of life. A properly drawn living will may permit medical professionals to disconnect life support systems rather than keep someone on life support indefinitely. The criteria may vary depending on the religious and/or cultural views of a person.

 

 

WHERE CAN A PERSON OBTAIN A LIVING WILL OR HEALTH CARE SURROGATE?

 

These documents can be obtained from an elder law attorney who specializes in advance directives. It is important that a person explains to the elder law attorney what specific wishes he or she has with regard to medical and end of life decisions so that the documents reflect the values of that person.

 

 

CAN A PERSON AVOID GUARDIANSHIP IF THEY HAVE A HEALTH CARE SURROGATE?

 

If a person has a health care surrogate, living will, and a durable power of attorney, a guardianship can be avoided in many situations. However, there are times when a guardianship is still required. This is especially true when an incapacitated person refuses to cooperate and will not remain in an assisted living facility or nursing home after placement. Only a guardian appointed by the court through a guardianship proceeding can instruct the facility to restrain the incapacitated person and prevent him or her from leaving.

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