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.

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.

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.

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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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How to Write a Florida Living Will

When you are no longer capable of making your health care decisions, your physicians can rely on documents you create now to guide your treatment. Chapter 765 of the Florida Statutes addresses these documents, called advance directives. Sections 765.303 and 765.304 give a suggested form for your living will and instructions on how to enact it.

Difference Between Living Will & Durable Power of Attorney

At some point, perhaps toward the end of your life, you may need help taking care of your finances, making medical decisions or communicating your wishes to your physicians and family. A living will, power of attorney for health care or power of attorney for finances can direct your health care or give others authority to act on your behalf.

Are Living Wills Able to Stand Up in Court?

Since every state has a provision recognizing advance medical directives, such as living wills or health care powers of attorney, a living will, properly executed according to your state’s laws, should be able to successfully resist a court challenge. However, there are some possible pitfalls that may hurt your living will’s ability to stand up in court.

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