Guide to Michigan living wills
While most states recognize living wills as legally binding instructions on how to treat terminally ill or injured people who can no longer make their wishes known due to unconsciousness or loss of communication skills, Michigan does not. Though you may write a living will specifying what you wish to be done if you are terminally ill, in a permanent coma or otherwise expected to die soon and unable to respond to doctors, you may appoint someone to act as your health care proxy. This person will be legally appointed to make all medical decisions on your behalf if you are unresponsive. An informal living will can help guide what is to be done, though it is not legally enforceable.
Because there is no legislation concerning living wills, you are free to create the document in any way you feel necessary. You should specify in as much detail your wishes regarding:
• Whether life-sustaining procedures such as artificial respiration should be continued if there is no hope of recovery, and if so for how long
• Whether you should keep receiving intravenous food and liquid if there is no hope of recovery
• Whether you wish to have your life prolonged as long as possible
You may choose to specify which treatments you would find acceptable and which would be too burdensome for you to undergo. If you feel it would be helpful, include statements about religious beliefs, the minimum quality life you consider necessary for life-sustaining treatments to continue, and any other factors that have been taken into consideration when making your decisions.
In addition to specifying your wishes regarding treatment, you may want to outline whether you wish to donate your body to a medical school, and which of your organs, if any, may be donated. Along with listing these kinds of “anatomical gifts,” you may describe any funeral procedures you wish to be taken. Keep in mind that any health care proxy you appoint is not required to abide by your living will. You should only appoint someone that you are sure will follow your wishes exactly. It is recommended that you appoint at least two people who can act as your health proxy, in case one person is not available to act on your behalf.
Since there are no guidelines to follow for this non-binding document, the best thing to do is follow the procedures of other states by getting the signatures of two witnesses who are not relatives or involved in administering your health care. If you have a physician, they should possess a copy of the document. You may wish to have a copy of your living will on your person at all times to ensure that you have the best possible chance of having your wishes respected.
If you do not wish to be resuscitated after your heart and breathing start, you may obtain a “Do Not Resuscitate” form. This document must be signed by your physician, unless you have a religious objection to resuscitation.