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Home > Blog > Estate Planning (Wills, Trusts, Deeds, Business Succession) > Is There a Difference Between a Healthcare Surrogate and a Power of Attorney in Florida?

Is There a Difference Between a Healthcare Surrogate and a Power of Attorney in Florida?


There are a lot of documents you need to consider as part of your Florida estate plan. Two of these are the power of attorney and a healthcare surrogate. Some people assume these are one and the same. While somewhat similar, they have some distinct differences and usually serve different purposes.

When you meet with a West Palm Beach estate planning attorney, they will explain all of the forms you need and how each works. Having the right documents in your estate plan is vital. This is one reason why it’s so important to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can make sure your estate plan is perfect for you.

What is a Durable Power of Attorney?

You have probably heard of a limited power of attorney, which is often used to address temporary needs for individual transactions. Once the transaction is complete, the limited power of attorney ends. A general power of attorney is broader and gives another person the right to do most things that you can do and it is ongoing. So this instrument can only be given to someone you know you can trust. A durable power of attorney is one that remains valid and is effective if you are incapacitated. If it lacks the term durable, it may not be available when you need it.

What is a Healthcare Surrogate?

Healthcare surrogate is someone you designate to make healthcare decisions for you. You can name an alternate too in case your first pick is not available or is unwilling to do it. A healthcare surrogate becomes effective when your treating physician makes the determination that you are unable to make healthcare decisions on your own. If you are still able to make decisions on your behalf, you remain in control.

Can the Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Surrogate Be the Same Document?

These topics can be addressed in the same document, provided all statutory requirements of each are met. Many people will recommend keeping them separate in order to keep the clarity. There are also situations where you may not want one document to be shared between everyone involved. For example, you may not want your medical providers to see your financial power of attorney.

Do You Need to Designate the Same Person for Both Documents?

No, there is no requirement that you must designate the same person. However, having separate people could open the door for conflicts down the line, so keep that in mind. Some decisions may ultimately overlap, so designating the same person can make a lot of sense for efficiency.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

You should be planning these documents as soon as possible. Accidents don’t just happen when you get older. What if you were severely injured in an auto accident at 30 years old? Not having these documents prepared ahead of time can lead to problems should an emergency arise.

It’s important to start the conversation now on who you want to designate as your person or persons for a durable power of attorney and healthcare surrogate. Don’t keep your wishes secret. Let loved ones know what your healthcare choices are. 

Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you have not started on your estate plan, now is the time. Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.


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