A Medical Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give authority to someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. This person is called a Patient Advocate. Michigan Law requires two doctors to state in writing that you are unable to make medical decisions before the Patient Advocate may make decisions. The decisions are all medical-related decisions - such as what drugs, what surgery, which hospital, which doctor, and the removal of life support.

Without a Medical Power of Attorney, a Guardian must be appointed by the Probate Court, based upon petitions filed by the family and the Guardian under Probate Court supervision. The Patient Advocate is not under Probate Court supervision and can make decisions without the Probate Judge being involved.

Most people believe a spouse has the right to make medical decisions for his/her spouse without a Power of Attorney. Without a Power of Attorney, a spouse does not have this authority. A child over 18 is an adult, and a parent does not have the right to make medical decisions for an adult child. When a child attains the age of 18, a Medical Power of Attorney should be considered to allow parents to make medical decisions without Probate Court involvement. Also, a step-parent cannot make medical decisions for a step-child. (See the question “When do I need a Temporary Guardian for a Minor” and the answer).