State Restrictions on Health Care Agents

Some states restrict who can serve as your health care agent.

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Your health care agent is the person that you name in your health care directive to work with your doctors to direct your healthcare and make treatment decisions for you in you are unable to do so. This person is usually called your “health care agent,” though some states use a term such as “representative,” “proxy,” or surrogate.”

Learn more about Choosing Your Healthcare Agent.

A number of states have rules about who can serve as your health care agent. Some states presume that the motivations of such people may be clouded by self-interest. For example, a doctor may be motivated to provide every medical procedure available, even if that goes against the patient’s wishes. On the other side, treatments may sometimes be withheld because of concerns about time or cost.

Before you select an agent, use the list below to learn about whether or how your state restricts your choice.

Alabama

Your health care proxy may not be:

  • your treating health care provider
  • an employee of your treating health care provider, unless the employee is related to you, or
  • under the age of 19.

Alaska

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of the health care institution at which you are receiving care, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Arizona

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

Arkansas

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

California

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your treating health care provider or an employee of your treating health care provider, unless the individual is your registered domestic partner or is related to you, or you and the employee both work for your treating health care provider
  •  an operator or employee of a community care facility, unless the individual is your registered domestic partner or is related to you, or you and the employee both work at the community care facility
  •  an operator or employee of a residential care facility for the elderly, unless the individual is your registered domestic partner or is related to you, or you and the employee both work at the residential care facility.

Colorado

Your health care agent must be at least 21 years old.

Connecticut

If, when you appoint your health care agent and attorney-in-fact for health care decisions, you are a patient or a resident of, or have applied for admission to, a hospital, residential care home, rest home with nursing supervision or chronic and convalescent nursing home, your health care agent and attorney-in-fact for health care decisions may not be:

  •  an operator, unless the operator is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  •  an administrator, unless the administrator is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  •  an employee, unless the employee is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

In any case, your health care agent and attorney-in-fact for health care decisions may not be:

  •  under the age of 18
  •  a witness to the document appointing him or her as your health care representative
  •  your attending physician, or
  •  an employee of a government agency which is financially responsible for your medical care—unless that person is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Delaware

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of a long term health care institution where you are receiving care, unless he or she is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

District of Columbia

Your health care attorney-in-fact may not be your health care provider.

Florida

Your health care surrogate may not be a witness to the document naming your health care representative.

Georgia

Your health care agent may not be a physician or health care provider who is directly involved in your health care.

Hawaii

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of your treating health care provider, unless the person is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Idaho

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your treating health care provider
  •  an employee of your health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  •  an operator of a community care facility, or
  •  an employee of an operator of a community care facility, unless the employee is related to you.

Illinois

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your health care provider, or
  •  your attending physician.

Indiana

No restrictions on who may serve as your attorney-in-fact and health care

representative.

Iowa

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your health care provider, or
  •  an employee of your health care provider, unless these individuals are related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—limited to parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and great-grandchildren.

Kansas

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your treating health care provider
  •  an employee of your treating health care provider, or
  •  an employee, owner, a director or an officer of a health care facility.

These restrictions do not apply, however, if your agent is:

  •  related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  •  a member of the same community of people to which you belong who have vowed to lead a religious life and who conduct or assist in conducting religious services and actually and regularly engage in religious, charitable or educational activities or the performance of health care services.

Kentucky

Your health care surrogate may not be an employee, owner, a director or an officer of a health care facility where you are a resident or patient, unless they are:

  •  related to you more closely than first cousins, once removed, or
  •  a member of the same religious order.

Maine

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of a residential long-term health care institution in which you are receiving care, unless he or she is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Maryland

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee—or the spouse, parent, child or sibling of an owner, operator or employee—of a health care facility where you are receiving treatment unless he or she would qualify as your surrogate decision maker under Maryland law or is appointed before you receive, or contract to receive, health care from the facility.

Massachusetts

Your health care agent may not be an operator, administrator or employee of a facility where you are a patient or resident or have applied for admission, unless the operator, administrator or employee is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Michigan

Your patient advocate must be at least 18 years old.

Minnesota

Your health care agent may not be your treating health care provider or an  employee of your treating health care provider, unless he or she is related to  you by blood, marriage, registered domestic partnership or adoption.

Mississippi

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of a residential long-term care facility where you are receiving treatment, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Missouri

Your health care attorney-in-fact may not be:

  •  your attending physician
  •  an employee of your attending physician, or
  •  an owner, operator or employee of the health care facility where you live, unless:
    • you and your attorney-in-fact are related as parents, children, siblings, grandparent or grandchildren, or
    • you and your attorney-in-fact are members of the same community of people who have vowed to lead a religious life and who conduct or assist in conducting religious services and actually and regularly engage in religious, charitable or educational activities or the performance of health care services.

Montana

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

Nebraska

Your health care attorney-in-fact may not be:

  •  under the age of 19, unless he or she is married
  •  a witness to your durable power of attorney for health care
  •  your attending physician
  •  an employee of your attending physician, unless the employee is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  •  a person unrelated to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is an owner, operator or employee of a health care provider of which you are a patient or resident, or
  •  a person unrelated to you by blood, marriage or adoption who is presently serving as a health care attorney-in-fact for ten or more people.

Nevada

Unless he or she is your spouse, legal guardian or next of kin, your health agent may not be:

  •  your health care provider
  •  an employee of your health care provider
  •  an operator of a health care facility, or
  •  an employee of a health care facility.

New Hampshire

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your health care provider
  •  an employee of your health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  •  your residential care provider, or
  •  an employee of your residential care provider, unless the employee is related to you.

New Jersey

Your health care representative may not be:

  •  under the age of 18, or
  •  an operator, administrator or employee of a health care institution in which you are a patient or resident, unless the operator, administrator or employee is related to you by blood, marriage, domestic partnership or adoption or, in the case of a physician, is not your attending physician.

New Mexico

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of a health care facility at which you are receiving care—unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

New York

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  under the age of 18, unless he or she is the parent of a child, or married
  •  your attending physician
  •  presently appointed agent for ten or more other people, unless he or
  • she is your spouse, child, parent, brother, sister or grandparent  an operator, administrator or employee of a hospital if, at the time of the appointment, you are a patient or resident of, or have applied for admission to, such hospital. This restriction shall not apply to:
    • an operator, administrator or employee of a hospital who is related
    • to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
    • a physician, who is not your attending physician, except that no physician affiliated with a mental hygiene facility or a psychiatric unit of a general hospital may serve as agent for you if you are living in or being treated by such facility or unit unless the physician is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

North Carolina

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

North Dakota

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your treating health care provider
  •  an employee of your treating health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  •  an operator of a long-term care facility, or
  •  an employee of an operator of a long-term care facility, unless the employee is related to you.

Ohio

Your health care attorney-in-fact may not be:

  •  under the age of 18
  •  your attending physician
  •  an administrator of any nursing home in which you are receiving care
  •  an employee or agent of your attending physician, or
  •  an employee or agent of any health care facility in which you are being treated.

These restrictions do not apply, however, if your attorney-in-fact is 18 years of age or older and a member of the same religious order as you—or is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Oklahoma

Your health care proxy must be at least 18 years old.

Oregon

Your health care representative may not be:

  • under the age of 18
  • your attending physician or an employee of your attending physician, unless the physician or employee is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  • an owner, operator or employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient or resident, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—or appointed before you were admitted to the facility, or
  • your parent or former guardian, if you were ever permanently removed from that person’s care by court order. (If you have questions about this restriction, consult a lawyer.)

Pennsylvania

Your health care agent may not be:

  • your attending physician or other health care provider, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  • an owner, operator or employee of a health care provider from which you are receiving care, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Rhode Island

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your treating health care provider
  •  an employee of your treating health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  •  an operator of a community care facility, or
  •  an employee of an operator of a community care facility, unless the employee is related to you.

South Carolina

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  under the age of 18
  •  your health care provider at the time you execute your health care power of attorney, unless he or she is related to you
  •  a spouse or an employee of your health care provider, unless he or she is related to you, or  an employee of the nursing care facility where you live, unless he or she is related to you.

South Dakota

No restrictions on who may serve as your health care agent.

Tennessee

Your health care agent may not be:

  • your treating health care provider
  • an employee of your treating health care provider, unless he or she is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption
  • an operator of a health care institution
  • an employee of an operator of a health care institution, unless he or she is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or
  •  your conservator, unless you are represented by an attorney who signs a specific statement—required by Tennessee Code § 34-6-203(c).

Texas

Your health care agent may not be:

  • your health care provider
  • an employee of your health care provider, unless the employee is related to you
  • your residential care provider, or
  • an employee of your residential care provider, unless the employee is related to you.

Utah

Your health care agent may not be:

  • your health care provider, or
  • an owner, operator or employee of the health care facility at which you are receiving care, unless related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

Vermont

Your health care agent may not be:

  • your health care provider, or
  • an owner, operator, employee, agent or a contractor of a residential care facility, health care facility or correctional facility in which you reside, unless related to you by blood, marriage, civil union or adoption.

Virginia

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old.

Washington

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your physician
  •  your physician’s employee, or
  •  an owner, administrator or employee of the health care facility where you live or receive care.

These restrictions do not apply, however, if your representative is your spouse, adult child or sibling.

West Virginia

Your health care representative may not be:

  • your treating health care provider
  • an employee of your treating health care provider, unless he or she is related to you
  •  an operator of a health care facility serving you, or
  •  an employee of an operator of a health care facility, unless he or she is related to you.

Wisconsin

Your health care agent may not be:

  •  your health care provider or the spouse or employee of your health care provider unless he or she is related to you, or
  •  an employee or the spouse of an employee of the health care facility in which you live or are a patient, unless he or she is related to you.

Wyoming

Your health care agent may not be an owner, operator or employee of a residential or community care facility where you are receiving care, unless he or she is related to you by blood, marriage or adoption.

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