Who Makes My Health Care Decisions If I Don't Name an Agent in New York?
If you are injured or ill and unable to make your own health care decisions, someone else must step in to speak for you. The general term for this person is a "health care surrogate" or "surrogate decision maker."
Who Can Be a Health Care Surrogate?
Your surrogate can be any of the following people:
- the agent you name in a durable power of attorney for health care
- a court-appointed , or
- someone authorized by state law to make decisions for you.
When it comes to making medical decisions on your behalf, the agent you appoint in a health care power of attorney will generally have priority over all other surrogate decision makers. That's the best reason to take the time to name someone yourself.
The rest of this article focuses on who makes health care decisions for you if you do not appoint your own representative.
New York's Health Care Surrogate Law
In New York, the law says . . .
Steps to Take If You Don't Name a Representative
If you don't appoint a representative to make decisions for you, it's a good idea to prepare a Living Will or other document that sets out your feelings and wishes for medical treatment. The law requires your surrogate decision maker and doctors to follow your known wishes to the greatest possible extent -- or to transfer you to a facility where you can get the care you want.
You should also be sure to talk about your health care wishes with those close to you and with the health care providers who are likely to be responsible for your care.
For general information about advance directives, see What New York Residents Need to Know About Living Wills and Medical Powers of Attorney.
If you want to appoint your agent or make a document setting out your health care wishes, see The Best Sources for Health Care Documents in New York.