Health Care Surrogate vs. Power of Attorney—What Is the Difference?

Advance Health Care Directive Health Care Surrogate vs. Power of Attorney—What Is the Difference?

Health Care Surrogate vs. Power of Attorney—The Analysis

If you become unable to think or communicate properly due to a disease or accident, it’s recommendable to assign a person to act on your behalf. The question is—who should you choose to make financial or medical care decisions in your stead, and why is a power of attorney (POA) significant?

We bring you the answers in the form of a health care surrogate vs. power of attorney and health care proxy vs. power of attorney analysis anyone will understand! You will also learn how to use DoNotPay to create these documents with zero fuss.

What Is a Health Care Surrogate?

A health care surrogate is an individual appointed to make choices concerning your medical treatments and end-of-life care if you become unable to express your wishes. Depending on the area, this person is also called:


  • Health care representative
  • Health care proxy
  • Attorney-in-fact
  • Health care agent
  • Patient advocate

What Is a Health Care Proxy?

To legally appoint a health care surrogate, you should create a medical power of attorney, also called a medical or health care proxy. This document contains:

  1. Appointment statement
  2. Your info
  3. Your primary health care agent info
  4. Alternative health care representative info
  5. Signatures of all participating parties, including one or two witnesses

A health care proxy is often combined with another type of health care directive—a living will. This document provides health care instructions for your doctors if you become incapacitated in the future.

Health Care Proxy and Medical Surrogate vs. Power of Attorney

The terms “medical power of attorney” and “power of attorney” mustn’t be confused. The following table shows the difference between the duties of a medical surrogate and an agent you name via a power of attorney:

Question Medical Surrogate POA Agent
What can they do? Decides about health care specifics only. They can’t make decisions concerning other aspects of your life. Has a broader spectrum of rights than a health care representative. They are allowed to act on your behalf when it comes to legal, financial, and estate matters
What do their duties include?
  • Accepting or rejecting specific therapies, surgeries, and other medical interventions
  • Choosing the medical personnel that should treat you
  • Picking nursery homes/health care facilities you should reside in
  • Making decisions related to:
    • Resuscitation
    • Artificial breathing and nutrition
    • Pain relief
    • Comfort/palliative care
  • Keeping your medical records
  • Staying in touch with your health care practitioner and attending medical personnel
  • Managing your bank accounts and performing financial transactions
  • Managing other property you possess
  • Filing taxes
  • Signing documents in your stead
  • Purchasing or selling real estate
  • Making investment decisions
  • Collecting your debts
  • Applying for public benefits

The person you choose as an agent must be of legal age (above 18) and trusted to make decisions that are in your best interest. They should also be of sound mind and know your preferences related to medical and end-of-life care or finances and property maintenance.

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What you should do is:

  1. Open DoNotPay
  2. Search for the Advance Health Care Directive product
  3. Designate a health care representative and name your witnesses
  4. Explain your medical care wishes and preferences

Some states propose mandatory notarization for living wills and medical proxies. If this is the case, DoNotPay simplifies the process by connecting you with a reliable online notary so that you can have your document notarized electronically.

Are you thinking about appointing an agent to handle your finances? Our app also features a product that can help you create durable powers of attorney in a snap.

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