How to Create a Living Will in Michigan

A document titled "Living Will" is laying on a table. On top of the document is a red pen.

A living will is a legal document that is sometimes referred to as an “advanced directive.” It differs from a last will and testament in that a living will operates while the individual whose interests it serves is still living

The purpose of a living will is to provide direction for health care-related decisions so that if an individual cannot make these decisions, their loved ones will have a record of their health care preferences.

Living wills are not required by law and are not recognized under Michigan law. However, they are a highly recommended tool for individuals conducting thorough end-of-life planning. It’s also important to remember that each state has guidelines, rules, and recommendations for creating living wills.

If you’re starting your end-of-life planning, keep reading to learn how to create a living will in the state of Michigan.

1. Determine Your Patient Advocate

A woman, wearing a brown cardigan, is holding hands with a man in a blue jacket. They are both sitting down, and their faces can't be seen. To the left, the hand of third person holds a pen and writes on paper attached to a clipboard

The first step in creating your living will is designating a patient advocate. 

A patient advocate, otherwise known as a “health care proxy,” is an individual who has the power to make medical treatment and custody decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make decisions yourself. 

Anyone of sound mind who is 18 years of age or older can serve as a patient advocate. It is always recommended to have two patient advocates, with one serving as a backup in case the first person cannot fulfill their duties as your advocate.

2. Identify Which Powers to Grant Your Patient Advocate

There are certain “powers” that you can grant your patient advocate. These powers typically represent decisions you would make for yourself, including the abilities to:

  • refuse medical treatment
  • arrange for home health care
  • move you to a nursing home or hospice
  • obtain and consent to mental health care
  • authorize certain surgeries
  • refuse placement in a nursing home or assisted living center

Other items you may add to your living will include directives on organ donation and whether you’d like to be put on a ventilator, feeding or hydration tube, or similar to sustain you in the last stages of your life.

3. Complete & Validate the Patient Advocate Designation Form

Close-up of a person's hand stamping an unidentified document

Once you have decided on a patient advocate you trust, you need two witnesses to confirm that you are of sound mind as you are making your living will. You, the patient advocate, and your witnesses will create a “patient advocate designation.”  Please note that your family and health care providers cannot serve as witnesses.

The patient advocate designation must be signed and notarized in the correct location (e.g., if you live in Michigan, you must sign and have the document notarized in Michigan). Remember that a living will is not valid until it’s notarized. 

You can find more information on patient advocate designation creation through the state of Michigan’s website or through their guide to making medical and legal decisions for end-of-life planning. Additionally, it is always recommended to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney if you have legal questions.

4. Update Your Living Will When Needed

Like any legal document, you should update your living will when necessary, including when you have a change of heart regarding your end-of-life desires. Remember that you can revoke and/or replace a previously designated patient advocate at any time.

Where to Find Living Will Templates

Websites like Rocket Lawyer and LawDepot are great resources for finding living will templates. All forms through these websites can be easily customized based on your unique wishes—and when you make an account, any documents you create will be saved, allowing you to make changes as needed. 

The Hospice of Michigan also has exceptional resources on advance directives, including living wills.

We also recommend visiting your local public library to see which free legal resources are available.

Remember—if you need legal advice, please consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.

One section from a living will template that outlines part of the patient advocate's responsibilities

A section from a sample template created by LawDepot.

Find More End-of-Life Planning Resources

Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons has been tending to the funeral needs of local families for four generations. If you need assistance with your end-of-life planning, let our caring team help you. We provide 24/7 guidance and even have a comprehensive funeral planning guide to help you get started.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free funeral pre-planning consultation.

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