A health care surrogate is the person you authorize to make medical decisions for you when you become incapacitated. The authorization is done via a health care designation, a legal document that appoints a person to become a surrogate. You should discuss your healthcare wishes with them in advance, but your healthcare surrogate should always act in your best interests if it is not the case.
Any competent adult can be your healthcare surrogate. You may need to ask them in advance if they wish to act on your behalf, and it is also advisable to choose a second person as an alternative if your first choice is unavailable to make decisions for you. If you appoint a spouse and later divorce, their appointment is usually revoked unless you state otherwise.
Your designation of surrogate health care form has to be signed and witnessed
You must sign and date the form or have someone else do it for you if you are incapable. In addition, there must be at least two witnesses, neither of whom is the designated surrogate. It is also important to note that you can change your advance directive anytime by completing a new one. Also, you can cancel it anytime you want by communicating your wishes to your doctor, family, social worker, healthcare representative, or a reliable witness.
Do not leave everything to chance
It is advisable to lay your health care plans when you are in a position to. While states have default rules on who can act on your behalf once you are incapacitated, it may not be the person you would have wanted. Further, the court may be called in to appoint a guardian for you, which can be an expensive legal process.
Given the high stakes involved, it is necessary to make your healthcare wishes clear. Learning more about what the law says will help you along the process and ensure that your actions are beneficial for you.