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                                 Health Care Surrogate


What is a healthcare surrogate?

A health care surrogate is an adult whom you choose to make healthcare decisions for you when you become unable to make them for yourself.               

Is a healthcare surrogate the same as a medical power of attorney or medical proxy?

Yes.  These are different names for the same documents.

Is a healthcare surrogate the same as a living will?

No, they are two separate documents.  A living will states decisions about your end of life treatment.  A healthcare surrogate makes medical decisions (surgery, medications, etc.) when you are unable to do so.


Do I really need a healthcare surrogate?

A healthcare surrogate will often avoid family conflict when you have made these major decisions known.  If different family members have different opinions on your treatment, the doctor may tell your family to obtain a court order giving the doctor directions.  A healthcare surrogate avoids this situation by giving one person the authority to make the decisions.  The doctor will follow the instructions of the healthcare surrogate, even if other family members disagree. prior to you to your death.


Do I have to have a lawyer make a healthcare surrogate?

No. However it is best to have an attorney prepare your healthcare surrogate because laws differ from state to state. Additionally, you need to be sure the proper HIPAA language is included in your healthcare surrogate.  You should also consult an attorney if you have questions about health care surrogates.  Many attorneys have free consultations where you can ask any questions without charge. 


Can I use a healthcare surrogate obtained from the Internet or in an office supply store?

Generally, the answer is “no.”  Healthcare surrogate forms obtained online and in office supply stores are “general forms” and may not address all possible legal issues (for example, HIPAA).  A decision appointing a healthcare surrogate is too important to use forms and should include all the legal language required by your state.


Do I choose the same person for my healthcare surrogate and my financial power of attorney?

You can have the same person serve as your financial power of attorney and your healthcare surrogate, or you may have one person serve as your financial power of attorney and another person serve as your healthcare surrogate.

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