Advance healthcare directives allow you to determine the medical care you want if you cannot make healthcare decisions. The directives are useful, for example, if you are in a coma or otherwise incapacitated. Below are some forms of advance healthcare directives you can use in Michigan.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney (POA) gives another person the legal power to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. In Michigan, a POA and a patient advocate designation (PAD) refer to the same thing. The person who makes healthcare decisions on your behalf is your patient advocate.
A POA is a good way to take charge of your future medical care. Say you don't want to receive an organ transplant. You can clarify that to your patient advocate while you are still able to make such decisions. Your patient advocate can then direct your doctors.
Your patient advocate:
Must be at least 18 years old
Doesn't have to be a relative
Should be someone you trust
You also need two witnesses to sign your POA. A witness can be anyone over the age of 18 as long as they are not:
An employee of a hospital where you are a patient
A family member
Your patient advocate
The above requirements help to avoid conflicts of interest. You can revoke or modify your POA anytime you want. Also, an existing POA automatically terminates if:
You divorce, and your spouse was your only patient advocate.
You create a new POA.
The only reason for the POA (say a major surgery) has happened.
Unlike other states, Michigan doesn't have an approved POA form. Contact an estate-planning attorney to help you create a POA that meets all the legal requirements.
A living will works more or less as a POA in that it helps you take charge of your future medical care. The main difference is that a POA gives the decision-making power to a person while the living will already has your decisions written out. For example, you can use a living will to clarify:
How long you would want to be on life support if you are in a coma
Whether you would want to donate your organs after death
Which treatments you would want or not want if you are incapacitated
A living will is enforceable in most states, but not Michigan. Most jurisdictions will obey your wishes, but there is no guarantee of that. The state doesn't even have formal requirements for a living will.
As such many people find that a living will works best with a POA. For example, you can give copies of your living will to people you trust, including your patient advocate. That way, the patient advocate understands your wishes and can easily communicate them.
Your estate-planning lawyer may advise you to have two witnesses sign your living will after you have signed it to further validate the document. Use adult witnesses who cannot create conflicts of interest.
Lastly, you can also use a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) order to control your future medical care. A DNR informs everyone that you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart or breathing stops. You can choose whether you want the DNR to apply to all situations or to exclude emergencies.
Unlike the other two directives, you need your physician's involvement to create a DNR. You discuss the issue with your physician first to ensure you are making an informed decision. The physician also has to sign the DNR form.
Once you have your DNR, let everyone in your circle know about it. You can even wear a DNR bracelet. You can revoke your DNR anytime you want.
Bahrie Law can ensure that your advance directives are legally binding. Contact us for a consultation to help you with your advance directives or other estate planning.