20:40 23 March in Estate Planning


POSTED BY MARK & BROWN, P.A. || 5-October-2015

Choosing a Health Care Surrogate (HCS) is an important part of your estate plan.  This choice is so important specifically because your health care surrogate is there to make difficult decisions for you when you cannot make them for yourself.  For that reason alone you need to carefully consider who you want to appoint to this role.  Unfortunately, all too often people fail to give this choice the gravity it deserves.

Things To Consider When Choosing Your Health Care Surrogate

Many people make the choice to name a close family member like a wife, husband, son, or daughter as their HCS, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  However, your HCS should ideally be someone who shares your values when it comes to end-of-live options.  They should also have the temperament to make tough decisions under pressure.  If your daughter does not share your views on life support, or if your son has difficulty acting decisively under stress, then they might not be the best choice for your HCS.

Distance is another factor you should take into account.  It is generally a good idea to appoint someone who lives reasonably close to you.  For example, if you live in California and your son lives in Florida, it might be difficult for him to effectively assess an emergency situation involving your health.  It might also be challenging for him to travel on short notice.  These things can compound to make an already bad situation even worse.

Common Choices

Many of our clients with adult children simply chose their eldest child to be their HCS by default.  Any other children are listed as alternates.  Other clients specifically try to chose a child who they feel will be best at handling an emergency situation.  Other clients take into account whether or not their children hold similar views on life support and other similar issues.  Other clients even appoint multiple children to act together as the HCS, and others utilize some combination of the above.  All of these options can be viable, but it’s important to recognize that there are considerations you should be making to guide your final decision.

Now, we’ve also had clients without any children at all.  Some of these didn’t have family they felt comfortable choosing as their HCS, and others had personal reasons for not wanting to chose a family member to act as their HCS.  There’s nothing wrong with this either, just so long as you have and HCS who is willing and capable of handling the responsibility.  Non-family members can be named as your HCS.  Just make sure that they are someone you can absolutely trust.


Establishing a Living Will and a Health Care Surrogate are important parts of a comprehensive estate plan, and you should discuss your options with a qualified estate planning attorney.  Please feel free to contact our offices for more information on this and other matters.  We would be happy to schedule you for a free consultation with an estate planning attorney.