(248) 735-0900


Estate Planning Attorney

Call Us Today!


Patient Advocate Designation

Most people have heard of a living will – a document that expresses your wishes concerning life-sustaining or “heroic” measures. In Michigan, living wills are not legally binding. There is however, a somewhat similar document known as a Patient Advocate Designation, which is legally binding in Michigan. You appoint a person of your choice (called a Patient Advocate) to make medical decisions for you, including termination of life support if you so wish, in the event that you are unable to make the decisions yourself. The power of the Patient Advocate ends if you regain decision-making capacity. Without a Patient Advocate Designation, your loved ones will be forced at the time of a medical crisis to petition the probate court for the appointment of a Guardian (possibly not a person of your choosing) to make these decisions for you. A Patient Advocate Designation is the means to ensure that if you become disabled, your medical decisions, as well as those concerning your care and placement, are made by a person in whom you have complete trust.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

When does a Patient Advocate Act?

The authority of a Patient Advocate is exercised only when you unable to participate in medical or mental health treatment decisions. You are deemed unable to participate in medical treatment decisions when your attending physician and another physician or licensed psychologist reach that conclusion after an examination of you. Their conclusions should be in writing and made a part of your medical record.

How to choose your Patient Advocate

  • Is your chosen Patient Advocate emotionally able and willing to follow your wishes (i.e. terminating life support)?
  • Would your Patient Advocate speak to doctors and make informed decisions?
  • Is your Patient Advocate local or able to be available fairly quickly?

“Karen, we really, really appreciate you! The better the planning we do, the luckier we have been, which is why I brought Aunt Betty to you 14 years ago, and we have sought your advice throughout. She is at peace knowing she doesn't need to worry about managing estate-related choices in her final days.“

Jay Smith

“Thanks for taking such good care of us and making it easy to ask questions. I appreciate not being made to feel stupid for asking questions. It was a lovely gift at a tough time.“

Charlie Patricolo

“Throughout the emotional roller coaster ride as my father’s Trustee, I am grateful you were there for me. You kept me grounded and focused on the job at hand, when I could easily have let my emotions take over. I am sure my Dad is smiling down on how everything came together, and happy I stayed with you as my legal counsel. I know I am certainly smiling. Thank you again.”

Lynn Speerschneider

“I would not hesitate to contact Karen in the future, or recommend her to friends and family, for estate planning needs. She made a confusing process very easy and painless.”

Top qualities: Personable, Good Value, On Time

“Karen is very personable and professional. Her method of determining my estate planning needs minimized the amount of time and effort on my part. She generated an estate plan that was fully customized for my special situation. It was a pleasure to work with her. I will continue to recommend her to my associates and friends.”

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

“I’d like to start by saying THANK YOU! For the first time in my life I found myself in trouble. I spoke with you and realized that I was speaking to a warm and sensitive person. After our discussion, you referred me to someone you felt more appropriate or fitting to my situation. I am grateful to you both! If I need a Lawyer or a CPA again, I would want the support and guidance of the two of you! Thank you again, you have made a difference in my life!”

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0


Complimentary Consultation

Come on in for a complimentary 30 minute consultation to meet Karen and learn about what you should be considering in your estate plan to fit your personal circumstances. If you fill out our estate plan questionnaire and bring it with you, it will make the meeting more productive.

Complete our questionnaire and bring to the meeting.

What are the Patient Advocate's Duties?

Your patient advocate must act in your best interest. Your Patient Advocate must take reasonable steps to follow your expressed desires, preferences, and instructions. This includes preferences you put in your Patient Advocate Designation or that are obvious from your own medical treatment decisions. It can be helpful to put your desires in writing.

You can give your Patient Advocate the authority to withdraw or withhold life sustaining procedures if you have a terminal and irreversible condition, as determined by your physician. You can also include that you do or do not want either artificial nutrition or hydration.

You can also give your Patient Advocate permission to donate your organs or other body parts for transplant or research after you die.

What are the Responsibilities of Medical Professionals Regarding Patient Advocate Designations?

Medical professionals are required to use sound medical practice. They also are required to follow your Patient Advocate’s instructions if they believe your Patient Advocate Designation is valid and your Patient Advocate is following the law.

Funeral Representative

The “Funeral Representative Designation Act” (a Michigan law effective in 2016) provides for you to give another individual (the “Funeral Representative”) the right and power to make decisions about your funeral arrangements and the handling, disposition, or disinterment of your body, including decisions about cremation and the right to possess cremated remains.

Until this Act, Michigan residents were stuck with what was a “next of kin” order of individuals who can make funeral decisions. The antiquated law seemed to ignore the realities of second marriages, estranged children, childless marriages, same-sex couples, etc.

Now, if no Funeral Representative is designated, funeral decisions are made by the next of kin in the following priority:
Your surviving spouse; your children; your grandchildren; your parents; your grandparents; your siblings; descendants of your parents (i.e. nieces and nephews); and descendants of your grandparents (i.e. aunts and uncles).

Anyone can be designated as Funeral Representative if the individual is at least 18 years of age and is not an employee associated with a funeral, cemetery, crematory or health facility providing services, unless that individual is among a class of certain relatives. You may also name a successor if the first named Funeral Representative is unable to act.
It should also be noted that the Act provides that the Funeral Representative is required to guaranty payment for the costs associated with the decision concerning the disposition of your remains. For this reason, we suggest that if you decide to execute a Funeral Representative Designation, you provide for payment of the costs and arrangements made by your Funeral Representative in your Will or Trust, by a prepaid funeral contract or another type of pre-need arrangement, or through a life insurance policy.

We also suggest that you formally state your funeral wishes in writing and attach it to the Funeral Representative Designation.

Finally, you should share this document with your designated Funeral Representative and any successor you name. That way, he or she can get involved as soon as possible after your death, especially if they are not a next of kin.