Health Care Surrogacy

Health Care Surrogates are legally designated to step in and make health care decisions on behalf of another person without decision making capacity. The Health Care Surrogate Act determines who can serve as a surrogate decision maker and spells out the limits of their decision making abilities. While the Health Care Surrogate Act acts as a baseline for who may make health care decisions on behalf of another person, patients are free to plan and make their own decisions.

Who is Eligible

Anyone over 18 years of age can serve as a Health Care Surrogate, depending upon their relationship to the patient.

Any person receiving medical treatment in the state of Illinois who lacks decision making capacity is entitled to have their interests expressed and upheld on their behalf by a Health Care Surrogate. 

Why Apply

There is no need to apply for this service. Any person receiving medical treatment in the state of Illinois who lacks decision making capacity is entitled to have their interests expressed and upheld on their behalf by a Health Care Surrogate. 

To Apply For

There is no need to apply for this service. The Health Care Surrogate Act covers all patients receiving medical treatment within the state of Illinois and becomes immediately effective should a patient lose their decisional capacity and have no advance directives in place.

For patients who lack decisional capacity (minors and disabled adults), medical treatment decisions, including whether to forgo life-sustaining treatment on behalf of the patient, may be made without court order or judicial involvement in the following order of priority:

  • the patient's guardian of the person; 
  • the patient's spouse; 
  • any adult son or daughter of the patient; 
  • either parent of the patient; 
  • any adult brother or sister of the patient; 
  • any adult grandchild of the patient; 
  • a close friend of the patient. 

Read More

Legal Guardians: A legal guardian is a person appointed to take care of the person or property of a minor child. Illinois law provides that a legal guardian may serve as a surrogate decision maker for the minor child with respect to all medical decisions. Once a legal guardian is appointed by the courts, their medical decision making ability supersedes that of the parents of the minor child.

  • Note: Guardianships may be limited to the guardianship of the person or guardianship of the estate. Guardians of the estate do not have any decision making ability with respect to medical decisions.

Links to Important Resources

A Physician's Guide to Advance Directives: Health Care Surrogates

Patients' Guide to Understanding the Illinois Health Care Surrogacy Act 


Topics: Public Insurance Coverage, Private Insurance Coverage, Guardianships and Estates
Tags: Health Care Surrogacy, Medical Decision Making
Last updated September 28, 2015

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