What's an advance directive and how do I make one?

Who is this for?

Michigan Health Insurance – Customer Service – Learn More


If you want doctors to know what kind of medical care you want when you can’t tell them yourself, you need an advance directive.

There are three kinds:

  • Durable power of attorney for health care, also known as a patient advocate designation
  • Living wills specify the type of medical care you want or don’t want
  • Do-not-resuscitate orders confirm you don’t want to be revived should your breathing and heartbeat stop

You can have one of these, none or all; it’s up to you. Advance directives are never required.

If you’re ready to create an advance directive, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. He or she will help you understand the kinds of decisions you might need to make.

After that, you can follow these instructions for how to establish durable power of attorney for health care and a living will. To learn about do-not-resuscitate orders, visit michigan.gov.

Who can be a witness

Witnesses to advance directive documents must to be unbiased and at least 18 years old. Under Michigan law, a witness can’t be:

  • Your spouse
  • Your parent
  • Your child or grandchild
  • Your brother or sister
  • Someone who benefits under your will
  • Your patient advocate
  • Your doctor
  • Someone who works for your life or health insurance companies
  • Someone who works for a health care facility where you receive treatment