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Understanding health care as part of estate planning in Michigan

Feb 10, 2021 | Estate Planning

Michigan residents who are thinking about estate planning might focus on their will or creating a trust. These are the most common aspects of an estate plan and therefore attract the most attention. However, there are many other parts of a comprehensive document. Often, people are concerned about how their health care will be handled if they are unable to state their preferences. This may occur if a person is suddenly incapacitated due to an accident or illness. A well-crafted estate plan can list the person’s desires for health care and make sure they are carried out. When forming an estate plan, it is important to know the goals and to have legal advice in ensuring they will be carried out as instructed.

Durable powers of attorney, living wills and POST

A durable power of attorney – also referred to as a health care proxy – provides an agent with the authorization to make medical decisions on the person’s behalf if that person is unable to do so for him or herself. This could be anyone that the person trusts. Often, it is a spouse, but it could be a child, relative or close associate.

A living will details what the person wants in terms of treatment and long-term care. It also states whether there will be life-saving procedures like a feeding tube or a respirator. Many people do not want to be kept alive artificially and say so in their living will. Others feel differently. This should be specific to avoid confusion.

Medical professionals can sign a list of medical orders that the person wants. In Michigan, this is known as Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (MI-POST). It lists what care the person requests if he or she is in a crisis and cannot state their desires on their own. It can apply to a person who is older and infirm or an adult who speaks to a health care professional about what they want in terms of treatment.

Estate planning can be complex and legal advice may help

Whether a person is concerned about how their property will be distributed after death, they are worried about a business, have minor children who will need to be cared for, have been divorced and remarried, are hoping to create a trust to protect assets, want to avoid hefty estate taxes, or are thinking about health care concerns, estate planning is key. To create a simple or complicated estate plan, it may be wise to have legal assistance. An experienced professional who understands all areas of estate planning can provide guidance with how to proceed and create a well-rounded document.