If you are in a marriage, registered domestic partnership, or civil union, recognized by the state in which you live, your spouse or partner can make those decisions for you. If you are not in a registered relationship, or that relationship is not recognized by your state, then state law would recognize your family of origin to make those decisions. However, you can override state law and give your spouse or partner the authority to make such decisions by signing a Health Care Power of Attorney. With such a document, when you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your spouse or partner can step in and speak for you. Further, this document will designate your spouse or partner as your choice to be guardian for you if one needs to be appointed. Without such a designation, your family of origin may have priority for such an appointment.