In an earlier post, we looked at the importance of setting up a durable power of attorney for financial matters. But, imagine what would happen if you were seriously ill or injured, unconscious and at the hospital. Who makes the decision about your health care? Your doctor? Your spouse? Another family member? Creating advanced directives will allow you to designate exactly who you want to make these important decisions.
In Michigan, there are two different kinds of advanced directives to consider: a health care power of attorney and a living will.
Health Care Power of Attorney
The health care power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent, called a patient advocate, to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. These decisions could include anything from signing off on an emergency surgery or agreeing to a medication course or treatment.
When creating a health care power of attorney, it is generally a good idea to name some backups in case your first choice of agent is unable or unwilling to make the decision. For example, a married couple may name each other as the primary agent for their health care, and then name all or some of their children as the backups. Having a backup named allows you to make sure that you receive the care you need as quickly as possible.
The second kind of document is called a living will, and its purpose is more limited and direct. A living will is a way for you to direct and indicate your wishes with regard to your end of life care. In the event that you are comatose, in the end stages of a serious illness, or permanently unconscious, your living will directs your patient advocate in what decisions to make for your comfort and care. Whether you want to be sustained on life support for a long time or want to be taken off such machines, a living will makes it clear to your doctors, family, and patient advocate on how they should proceed.
To further explore the benefits of advanced care directives, contact the office today.
Jessica Brandow is foremost an estate planning attorney dedicated to providing quality legal service to all types of clients.