Health Care Directive

Health care directives are called many different names: living will, health care power of attorney, medical directive, do-not-resusciate, or designation of patient advocate.  No matter what name you use, the objective of a health care directive should be the same -- to appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf, including whether to withhold or withdraw life support if you become incapacitated and terminally ill. 


In Michigan, the person creating a health care directive is called the "patient".  The person appointed to make medical decisions for the patient is called a "patient advocate".   There is no form prescribed for designating a patient advocate, nor is there any limit on the instructions that a patient can give. 


These are the minimum requirements for a health care directive in Michigan:

  • The patient must be over the age of 18:
  • The patient advocate must be over the age of 18;
  • The designation must be in writing, signed, and witnessed by 2 unrelated persons;
  • Life support may not be withheld unless the patient acknowledges that such a decision could lead to his or her death; and
  • The patient must be incapacitated before a patient advocate may act on his or her behalf.

Otherwise, you are free to prescribe any conditions for your medical care.  Of course, this freedom means that you must anticipate all of the situations that your patient advocate may face.  Therefore, a health care directive is more difficult to draft than you might expect.  The danger in using a form is that you won't consider all of the situations that your patient advocate might encounter. 


Learn more about health care directives in our Articles section >>>

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