Living Will Requirements in Michigan

By Timothy Mucciante

In Michigan, a living will is one of three types of advance directives; the other two types are a durable power of attorney and a do-not-resuscitate order. An advanced directive is a document signed by an individual that specifies what type of medical care he wants in the future, or who he wants to make decisions for him if he loses the ability to make his own decisions. The Michigan legislature has not given any legal force to the living will in Michigan, although 47 other states have done so.

In Michigan, a living will is one of three types of advance directives; the other two types are a durable power of attorney and a do-not-resuscitate order. An advanced directive is a document signed by an individual that specifies what type of medical care he wants in the future, or who he wants to make decisions for him if he loses the ability to make his own decisions. The Michigan legislature has not given any legal force to the living will in Michigan, although 47 other states have done so.

Living Will

Every person has the right to make health care decisions for herself; however, in some circumstances, you may not be able to communicate your desires regarding your health care choices. A living will is limited in scope and deals with specific situations, but using one does give you some say in end-of-life decisions. For example, a living will may deal with discontinuing life support at the end of a prolonged terminal illness. A living will provides you with the ability to communicate your final wishes to the medical staff when you are unable to do so.

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Enforceability of a Living Will

Although Michigan healthcare institutions are not bound to follow your wishes specified in a living will, based on a Michigan court decision, there is an argument that living wills are binding in this state, according to the State Bar of Michigan. No one, however, can provide absolute assurance your wishes will be honored. Because there is no state law regarding living wills, there are no formal requirements for drafting one. However, it is advisable to title the document, "Living Will," sign it, and have two witnesses who are not family members sign it. You can also use an online document preparation website to prepare your living will.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney for health care, also known as a health care proxy, is a document in which you appoint another individual to make medical treatment and personal care decisions for you. The person you appoint is called a "patient advocate." You can appoint any adult to act as your patient advocate. A living will is different than a durable power of attorney, in that the living will only expresses what you would like to happen -- it does not appoint a patient advocate to make sure it happens. You can authorize your patient advocate to withhold or withdraw food and water administered through tubes. You can also express your wishes concerning other types of care you want during a terminal illness in your health care proxy. A durable power of attorney for health care is binding in Michigan.

Do-Not-Resuscitate Order

A DNR, or do-not-resuscitate, declaration is a specific type of advance directive. You may use this directive if you do not want anyone to attempt to resuscitate you when your breathing and heartbeat stop. Unlike a living will and durable power of attorney, most health care organizations will only use their forms for a DNR order. Before you sign a DNR order, it is best to consult with your doctor and family.

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Living Wills in Illinois

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Healthcare Proxies Vs. Living Wills

It is important to communicate with your doctor when medical care must be administered. Being able to convey your wishes and make decisions is the key to controlling what form of treatment and care you receive. An advance directive, such as a living will, makes it possible for you to put your wishes in writing ahead of time, so they can be followed if you are too sick or injured to consult with your doctor. A health care proxy, another form of advance directive, allows you to appoint someone to make health care decisions for you.

Living Wills Vs. DNRs in Michigan

While not pleasant to think about, an end-of-life situation in which you cannot communicate your health care preferences to those around you is a possibility. Fortunately, there are documents available that can do the communicating for you. In Michigan, these documents are called advance directives. Two types of advance directives are living wills and do-not-resuscitate directives.

Reasons for Having a Living Will

It is not unusual to fear becoming too sick or injured to express your wishes concerning your medical treatment to your doctors and loved ones. While doctors and medical personnel are trained and committed to saving lives, not allowing them to end, you may not want doctors to use extraordinary means, such as artificial respiration or tube feeding, to keep you alive in a vegetative state. A living will is a legal document that provides individuals a means by which to express their wishes regarding medical treatment if they become unable to make their own medical decisions. Each state has its own laws governing the format, signing formalities and legal effect of a living will. Consider using an Internet document preparation website to prepare your living will according to your state's laws.

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