What is a Health Care Surrogate?
A Health Care Surrogate (also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney) is a person who makes medical decisions for you when you can no longer communicate with your doctor.
Our Health Care Surrogate (HSC) is a separate document from our Durable Power of Attorney; the Durable Power of Attorney is a financial document, not a medical document. The person making medical decisions for you does not have to be the same person who handles your financial affairs. And your financial institutions do not need to know about your health issues, and your medical providers do not need to know about your financial situation.
Our HCS document is separate from our Living Will document. A Living Will states your end of life wishes. It is our position that your end of life wishes are none of the hospital’s business, especially for older folks, every time you go into a hospital. When asked for a Living Will at the time of admission, we advise clients to say there is a Living Will but only give the facility a copy of the HCS document. Do not sign a new Living Will if asked to do so at the hospital.
You need to appoint someone as your Health Care Surrogate who will keep a cool head in a medical emergency. If you are appointing a child as your Health Care Surrogate, it need not be the oldest child – just the one best able to function in an emergency situation. Your Health Care Surrogate does not need to be a child, does not need to be a relative, does not even need to reside in Kentucky, although that is helpful. You should ask the person you want to appoint as your Health Care Surrogate if he or she will agree to be your Health Care Surrogate. Additionally, you should discuss your desires about medical care and treatment with your Health Care Surrogate.
Only one person should be appointed as your Health Care Surrogate. If more than one person is appointed, some medical providers may require all to be present and agree before any decision is made. Multiple Surrogates can disagree as to what treatment should be undertaken, causing problems for the health care provider. One person needs to make the necessary medical decisions.
Our HCS documents provide HIPA language and provide protection for legal access to the Courts, if ever needed.
An alternate should be named in case the primary surrogate is not willing or able to carry out the required responsibilities. If you name your spouse as your surrogate, if you are both in the same car accident, no one would have the legal authority to make medical decisions for you if an alternate is not chosen.
Why do I need a Health Care Surrogate?
A Health Care Surrogate is needed by every adult over the age of 18. You never know when that meteorite is coming down to hit you on the head! Since you cannot know when a surrogate will be needed, when it is needed is too late to sign one. You should have one now.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a free consultation with us, please feel free to contact us, we’re here to help.