What is a healthcare surrogate?
What is a Healthcare Surrogate?

What is a healthcare surrogate? The term refers to a person who has the authority to make healthcare decisions on someone else’s behalf. Learn more in this article.

When someone is no longer able to make healthcare decisions for themselves, they can assign a healthcare surrogate. The purpose of this role is to have someone who can make medical decisions on the individual’s behalf. If the individual doesn’t assign one, then the spouse or next of kin will be appointed.

What is a Healthcare Surrogate?

A healthcare surrogate is an individual who is appointed by the patient or his family to take care of the patient’s medical needs if he becomes unable to speak for himself. The surrogate is legally authorized to make decisions about the patient’s healthcare. This person does not have to be a blood relative, but they can be. There are many advantages of appointing someone who knows you well and knows your preferences for medical treatment.

How to Appoint One

Appointing someone to this role is a straightforward process, however, you may wish to speak to an estate planning attorney to ensure that you file all the correct paperwork. The designation needs to be made in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses to be considered valid. One of the witnesses cannot be a spouse or blood relative.

What is the difference between a healthcare surrogate and durable power of attorney?

A healthcare surrogate is a person that makes healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. They only have the power to make medical decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual.

As we have previously written, a durable power of attorney is usually only authorized to make financial and business decisions on the behalf of the principal. You may be able to name both appointees in the same document, but many attorneys prefer separate documents to avoid confusion.

What happens if I am incapacitated and have not designated a healthcare surrogate?

In the event of incapacitation, an appointed person will take over making healthcare decisions. This is usually determined by advance medical directives, but if the incapacitated person has not designated a healthcare surrogate, the decisions will fall to a family member, such as a spouse, sibling, or adult child.

Who can be named to this role?

To be eligible for this role, a person must be 18 years or older. A spouse, parent, sibling, or adult child can all be named. However, it is important to consider whether this person will act in the best interest of the patient.

Need assistance putting your estate in order? The estate planning attorneys at Casal & Moreno are here to help you create a plan that fits your needs. Contact us today.