Surrogate Consent Laws
In those states with Surrogate Consent Laws, the law determines the identity of the person who is authorized to make medical decisions for you without regard to your wishes.
Surrogate Consent Laws only consider the person's legal relationship to you. They are not concerned with whether you are close to the person emotionally or whether the person has have a clear picture of your own wishes.
- Generally, the first person given the power to act on your behalf is your spouse, if you have one. An unmarried partner is generally not considered to be a spouse.
- If there is no spouse, a parent is next. If no parent survives, a brother or sister are next.
Unless there is clear evidence of your desires, it is not likely that the person who can act under a Surrogate Cnsent Law will have authority to terminate treatment if you become terminally ill. "Clear evidence" can be provided by means of documents known as "Advance Directives" (Living Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, DNR Order).
For a list of the states with Surrogate Consent Laws, and a general description of the provision of those laws, see the website of the American Bar Association by clicking here . (If the link is out of date, search on the ABA's site as www.americanbar.org for "Surrogate Consent Laws")