The Family Health Care Decisions Act

The Family Health Care Decisions Act was adopted in New York State in 2010 to provide for the
appointment of a “surrogate” or decision-maker in the case where a patient lacks the capacity to
make his or her own decisions and does not have a health care proxy.

In order of priority. the surrogates are:
1. Spouse or domestic partner
2. Child over 18 years old
3. Parent
4. Sibling over 18 years old
5. Close friend or relative (not listed above) who has maintained regular contact with the patient as
to be familiar with the patient’s activities, health and religious or moral beliefs, and who presents
a signed statement to the attending physician attesting to that.
6. Court-appointed guardian

A surrogate has the authority to make any and all health care decisions on an adult
patient’s behalf that the patient would make for him or herself, if they weren’t unable to.