Who will make medical decisions if I am unable to do so?

The law gives you the absolute right to either consent to or refuse medical treatment.  Medical professionals are obligated to completely disclose any information they have about you and to make recommendations regarding courses of medical treatment.  But you are the one who says either “yes” or “no” You can refuse unwanted treatment even if that treatment would prolong your life.

he decision to receive or refuse medical treatment is completely personal.  Different treatments carry different risks.  Some may involve "side effects" that are predictable but that can be painful or impair your quality of life.  That’s why you are the only one who knows what’s best for you.

If the time ever comes that you cannot make your own medical decisions your doctor will likely rely on the closest available relative to speak for you.  But often the closest relative is reluctant to make such choices.  If there is a group of decision makers such as your children, they may not be in agreement about the best course of action for you.  That’s why it’s best for you to choose who will speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

Michigan recognizes a legal document called a Health Care Power of Attorney.  Sometimes it is referred to as an Advance Directive.  With this document you can do two very important things.

First, you choose who will serve as your Patient Advocate.  Just as the title implies, your Patient Advocate is charged to act in your best interest and has full authority to consent to medical care or to refuse it.  The doctors and other medical personnel must abide by the decisions of your Patient Advocate.

Second, your Health Care Power of Attorney will detail the exact scope or authority your Patient Advocate may exercise.  You can include specific directions about the kinds of medical treatment you would accept and the kind of medical treatment you would refuse.

Anyone over the age of 18 can create a Health Care Power of Attorney.  You can choose whomever you wish to serve as your Patient Advocate.  You can choose your primary Patient Advocate and as many contingent Patient Advocates as you want.  It’s best to choose just one person to serve as your Patient Advocate at a time and to list them in the order you would prefer them to serve.  Married couples typically choose their spouse to serve as primary Patient Advocate.  Usually a trusted adult child is listed in second place and will assume the responsibilities of Patient Advocate in the event the spouse is unable to serve.  You can always change your mind.  A Health Care Power of Attorney can be revoked and replaced with a new Health Care Power of Attorney.

Medical treatment is completely your CHOICE.  A Health Care Power of Attorney can be your VOICE.
A Health Care Power of Attorney is a standard part of the estate planning process that we help our clients complete.
Contact us if you’d like to learn more about what we can do for you.