If the time has come for you to consider setting up your estate plan, will a patient advocate be part of that structure?

While Michigan law does not require you to have this kind of help, you may feel it is best that you have a patient advocate, a person you choose who will make competent decisions about your healthcare if you become physically or mentally unable to do so.

Patient advocate responsibilities

If you become seriously ill, you can give your patient advocate the right to make the same kind of decisions you would make if you were well. For many people, this is a circumstance that is related to a long-term or permanent health condition. Responsibilities might include arranging for your care in a hospital or nursing home, making the decision to withhold life-sustaining treatment or to donate your organs if you should die. On the other hand, you may only need a patient advocate to make healthcare decisions for you during a brief illness. Once you have recovered, you will resume making your own decisions.

Who to appoint

Your patient advocate can be anyone over the age of 18. You might select a family member, a close friend or anyone else you trust to act on your behalf. There are a few questions to consider:

  •         Is this person capable of making tough decisions?
  •         Will the patient advocate carry out your wishes even if he or she would personally choose a different option?
  •         Would this person consider advice or suggestions from others about your care and be able to handle any sort of conflict that might arise?

Part of the plan

An experienced attorney will tell you that the patient advocate designation can become an important part of your estate plan. Give careful thought to the matter, and discuss it with the person you choose and make sure that he or she is willing to serve in this capacity.