Living Will versus Health Proxy - What are the Differences - Overview

By by Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD
  • Living Will and Health Proxy.
    • What is the difference between them.
      • Living will is a statement of health care wishes.
      • A health proxy is a legal document in which you designate a person, called agent, to handle health care decisions for you.
    • Why you need both.
      • Living will is not legally recognized in all states.
      • Health proxy should focus on powers given to your agent, not the details of your personal wishes,
      • You need both so that both personal wishes are made known and someone has the authority to act. Just naming an agent is not enough.
    • Issues to consider:
      • Who to name.
      • Never name joint agents.
      • Will the agent really be able to make the tough decisions?
      • Will the agent respect your wishes?
      • Address funeral and burial decisions.
      • Describe personal wishes whatever they are.