Contrary to popular belief, these two documents are not one in the same. Your Health Care Surrogate is the person who will act on your behalf for medical decisions, only if you are not capable of doing so yourself. You should discuss your medical wishes with this person in advance, so they know how to proceed if you are unable to make your own medical decisions. This is not the same thing as a Living Will. On the other hand, a Durable Power of Attorney grants your agent the authority to act on your behalf for all other decisions, including financial, business, real estate, and sometimes even estate planning and gifting, depending on whether you include those selections in your Durable Power of Attorney document. A Durable Power of Attorney is effective immediately, and your agent can essentially do anything you can do. It is important to speak with your estate planning attorney to discuss these documents.
-Emily A. Helmick, Esq.