How can Michigan residents establish a living will or healthcare directive?

Understanding Living Wills and Healthcare Directives in Michigan

Residents of Michigan who wish to ensure that their healthcare preferences are honored in the event they are incapacitated can do so through a living will or healthcare directive. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that outlines your wishes concerning medical treatments at the end of life. In Michigan, while there is no statute governing living wills, the state recognizes the value of these directives through case law.

A healthcare directive allows individuals to appoint a patient advocate, who makes medical decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so themselves. This document is officially referred to in Michigan as a 'Designation of Patient Advocate' form.

Establishing a Designation of Patient Advocate in Michigan

To establish a Designation of Patient Advocate, follow these steps:

The Role of Historical Cases in Michigan's Healthcare Directives

In the absence of a specific statute for living wills in Michigan, historical cases such as In re Martin, which dealt with the withdrawal of life support for an incapacitated patient without a living will, have highlighted the need for clear directives. This case underlined the importance of having an appointed patient advocate who can make decisions aligned with the incapacitated individual's desires.

To further illustrate, consider the scenario where someone without a healthcare directive suffers from an irreversible condition that renders them unable to communicate. Without clear instructions or an appointed advocate, family members may endure stressful disputes or court interventions to determine care decisions. Establishing a healthcare directive beforehand eliminates ambiguity and ensures that one's healthcare choices are respected.


Making healthcare decisions for when you can't do so yourself is an important step in maintaining control over your medical care. In Michigan, setting up a Designation of Patient Advocate is crucial in ensuring that your health care preferences are upheld. By taking the initiative to establish clear directives and appointing a patient advocate now, you can provide peace of mind to both yourself and your loved ones.