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  • Sean Parent

Healthcare Power of Attorney: 101

Preparing for unforeseen healthcare issues is one of the most important, and overlooked, aspects of estate planning. Establishing a healthcare power of attorney allows you to designate someone you trust to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This article explores the laws that govern durable powers of attorney in Michigan and highlights the key considerations when drafting such an essential document.

Understanding Healthcare Power of Attorney in Michigan

Under Michigan law, a durable power of attorney for healthcare is governed by the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). This legal instrument grants authority to an appointed individual, known as the patient advocate or attorney-in-fact, to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself.

The Importance of Proper Drafting

When drafting a durable power of attorney for healthcare in Michigan, certain considerations should be taken into account to ensure clarity, effectiveness, and alignment with the principal's wishes. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:

  1. Selecting the Right Agent: Choosing a trustworthy and reliable healthcare agent takes careful consideration. The agent should be someone who understands the principal's values, preferences, and medical treatment wishes. Further, a good patient advocate is reliable and able to make difficult decisions in accordance with your wishes. It is also important to have open and honest conversations with the chosen agent regarding the principal's healthcare desires.

  2. Specifying Powers and Limitations: The power of attorney document should clearly outline the extent of the agent's authority. This includes specifying whether the agent has the authority to consent or refuse medical treatment, choose healthcare providers, access medical records, and make end-of-life decisions.

  3. Including Specific Instructions: The principal may include specific instructions or preferences regarding medical treatments, life-sustaining measures, and end-of-life care. These instructions should be as detailed and specific as possible, providing guidance to the agent in making decisions that align with the principal's wishes.

  4. Discussing with Healthcare Providers: Informing healthcare providers about the existence of a durable power of attorney for healthcare is essential. Provide copies of the document to the principal's primary care physician, specialists, and any medical facilities involved in the principal's care. This ensures that the agent's authority is recognized and respected.

  5. Ensuring Legally Valid Execution: To be legally valid in Michigan, a durable power of attorney for healthcare must be in writing, signed by the principal or another individual in the principal's presence at their direction, and acknowledged by two witnesses. As with all estate planning documents, it is a best practice to have the document notarized as well. Compliance with these execution requirements ensures the document's enforceability.

A healthcare power of attorney is a vital component of an individual's estate plan. By understanding the laws governing this legal instrument and considering the important considerations when drafting it, you can ensure that your healthcare wishes are respected and that a trusted agent is empowered to make decisions on your behalf. Consulting with an experienced attorney is highly recommended to navigate the complexities of Michigan's laws on durable power of attorney for healthcare and to tailor the document to individual needs.

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