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What are living wills and designation of patient advocate?

Many of our readers have heard about living wills, advance directives and other end-of-life documents. What some of our readers might not realize is that Michigan has some very interesting laws pertaining to these end-of-life documents. Our Michigan readers might like to know this information so that they can ensure their estate plan is legal in regard to their medical care.

What are advanced directives?

Advanced directives are documents used to convey your wishes about your medical care in case you can't make the decisions for yourself. While advanced directives aren't required by law, they are a good idea to have so that your wishes are known. There are three types of advance directives, but only two are covered under Michigan law. The two that are covered in Michigan are do-not-resuscitate orders and durable power of attorney for health care. The one that isn't covered is the living will.

What is a do-not-resuscitate order?

A do-not-resuscitate order is signed if you don't want to be resuscitated if your vital signs plummet. This means that you wouldn't be revived at all.

What is a durable power of attorney for health care?

A durable power of attorney for health care, which is also known as a designation of patient advocate, gives a person of your choosing the right to make health care decisions for you. This person must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind in order to be considered as a patient advocate for you. You must have the applicable forms and documents executed in the manner required by Michigan law.

What is a living will?

A living will is an account of what medical decisions you want. This document, however, isn't recognized by Michigan statutes. Having one can still help you. In the event that there is a dispute about your medical care, your living will can be taken into account by the court if your case is taken to court.

With all three of these advance directives, it is vital to ensure that you have them executed properly. Working with someone who is familiar with Michigan laws can help you to determine how to include this information in your estate plan.

Source: Michigan Legislature, "Planning for your…Peace of Mind: A Guide to Medical and Legal Decisions" accessed Feb. 06, 2015

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