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When to appoint a patient advocate or draft a living will.

We are frequently asked when or if a client needs to appoint a patient advocate or draft a living will. The simple answer to that question is that everyone should have a patient advocate and that it should be done sooner than later. Some common reasons that bring people to a lawyer to draft a living will include the following:

  • Declining health
  • Diagnosis with a terminal or serious heath condition
  • Desire to direct another regarding your wishes so that they will be more likely carried out
  • An impending hospitalization or surgical procedure

What does living will or patient advocate mean?

A living will is one of a number of names for documents that appoint a patient advocate or, in other words, a person that is appointed to make decisions when someone becomes unable to make decisions. Some other names for these types of documents include a patient advocate form or, in Michigan, a power of attorney for health care. Generally, all of these documents are written to appoint another persons to make life and death decisions for the signer and to provide some type of guidance so that the advocate knows the types of choices that the signer might otherwise make for themselves.

Who needs a power of attorney for health care?

Sooner or later everyone should have a power of attorney for health care. Most people would consider such planning to be something reserved for old people. Actually, we recommend that anyone preparing an estate plan prepare a patient advocate form. The reason for doing so is simply that we do not have any idea when a tragedy could occur or when we could suffer from some type of medical emergency. A patient advocate is needed during those types of events more than ever.

Certainly, those who are beginning to suffer from declining health or have been diagnosed with a serious health condition should consider preparing a power of attorney for health care and appointing a patient advocate. Anyone about to undergo a medical procedure may also want to consider the preparation a power of attorney or other estate planning documents.

Sometimes overlooked however are others that might be in perfect health. For example, college students, recently divorced people or single parents might find peace of mind in knowing that if some type of tragedy were to occur there is someone that has been appointed to make decisions on their behalf. Likewise those that might be in perfect health but engaged in dangerous hobbies such as motorcycle racing, skydiving or other dangerous activity might want to make a patient advocate selection and make their choices for health care known.

Ultimately the goals of a living will, patient advocate form or power of attorney for health care should be to allow the drafter to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf and to make their wishes for future health care known to both health care providers and loved ones.

Prepare Your Power of Attorney for Health Care or Estate Plan

The Macomb County Estate Planning Attorneys at Penzien & McBride, PLLC assist families throughout the State of Michigan with their estate planning needs. If you are looking for a compassionate professional that can help you through the estate planning process or if you would like additional information about our Macomb County based estate planning services give us a call at (586) 690-4400 or complete our contact us form.

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