End-of-life decisions are often a part of a Michigan estate plan, but a person does not necessarily have to be on a deathbed to need important questions answered by this document. However, the answers could make the difference between life or death.

According to the State of Michigan, an advance directive contains information about how medical care should or should not be administered if a person is incapacitated and unable to choose in the moment. Some choices can be made ahead of time, but it is a good idea to name a patient advocate, as well. This should be a person who is trusted absolutely to make the decisions that the patient would have if he or she had been able. The agreement must be in writing, and the person chosen must sign it, in order for it to be legal.

No one has to fill out this form, but someone will still have to make choices for an incapacitated person who needs medical care if there is no instruction provided ahead of time. When a doctor needs a decision and believes the patient is not able to give an answer, he or she will collaborate with a psychologist or other health care provider before deciding to direct the question to someone else. This may be a spouse or family member, but in some cases, a guardian may need to be appointed by the court.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that their loved one could be at the mercy of a person who would not act honorably. Others may not want to be the one with the responsibility of making such weighty decisions. Harvard Health Publications notes that people may be able to prompt a family member to create an advance directive by pointing out the benefits of this facet of the estate plan.

A refusal should not end the conversation permanently. Once time has passed and a person has had time to process the idea, he or she may be more open to the topic. Some people may feel more comfortable with the idea after visiting with a doctor to learn about the types of decisions that could be included and receiving professional medical advice.