What’s an Advance Directive?

An advance directive is a document that lets you make your medical decisions in advance, in case you lose the ability to make them for yourself. It lists which medical treatments you want and authorizes someone you know and trust to make decisions for you based on your wishes.

There are two kinds of advance directives. You can choose either a durable power of attorney for health care or a living will. Michigan law doesn’t authorize living wills.

If you’re unable to make health care decisions for yourself, having an advance directive on file will make sure that your wishes are carried out. When you create your advance directive, you’ll decide which medical treatments you’ll be allowed to have. You’ll also authorize someone to make decisions for you in case you’re unable to. This person will be your patient advocate. 

Advance directives are voluntary. It’s against the law for anyone to require you to create an advance directive to get health care.

What you need to do

  1. Talk with your doctor about the treatment decisions you might need to make in the future. Remember, an advance directive is voluntary. You don’t have to have one to receive health care. 
  2. Fill out the Patient’s Advance Directive form in front of a witness. If you need to, you can write additional instructions on a piece of paper and attach it to the form. You don’t have to use our version of the form. You can also get advance directive forms from a local hospital or your attorney. You can use whichever version of the form you want.
  3. Choose your patient advocate, someone you trust to work with your doctors to make decisions about your health care in your place. 
  4. Ask your patient advocate to accept their rights and responsibilities by signing the Acceptance by Patient Advocate form.
  5. Fill out the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care form with your patient advocate and two witnesses. You don’t need a lawyer, but you may want to consult one.
  6. Give a copy of your advance directive to your doctor, your patient advocate, your lawyer and anyone else who might need to know about your health care decisions — for example, a spouse, a nursing home or a hospital. Keep a copy of your advance directive in a safe place where someone can easily find it. Also, by giving a copy to your doctor, you’ve made your advance directive a part of your medical records.

For more information about advance directives, talk to your doctor or call customer service at the number on the back of your subscriber ID card, also known as enrollee ID card.

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