With our current pandemic, you have probably had a lot of time to reflect during our new normal and thought about things you wish to accomplish with the extra time you now have available. With the media bombarding us with the “sky is falling” and “chicken little” updates on a regular basis, you have likely reflected upon the types of decisions you would like made for you if you were unable to communicate with medical professionals in regard to your care and how those decisions will be made. From a legal perspective the important information that should be reflected in written form are the persons designated to communicate your choices to your medical professionals and those preferences you have in regard to your medical care to ensure you receive the care you want.
Does Your Patient Advocate Designation Reflect Your Wishes?
With our new norm of self-containment, now is the time to look at your Patient Advocate Designation and confirm you have designated the right person or persons willing to consent to the care you want or who are willing to withdraw life-sustaining care consistent with your preferences. If your current Patient Advocate is not comfortable with enforcing your current wishes, you need to designate someone willing to do so. It is a very easy document to update.
Have you discussed your wishes with your Patient Advocate?
Now is also goodFebruary 2019 (1) time to talk with your Patient Advocate and any designated successors to ensure that they are aware of your current wishes. This will allow your Patient Advocate to confidently and effectively communicate your wishes to medical professionals, family members and friends. Without this discussion, they might not know what your wishes involve and may consent to care you would have never agreed to receive. If your plan directs your Patient Advocate that no ventilator, or respirator, should be used if there is no reasonable expectation of your recovery, you should discuss what that means to you. Obviously with COVID-19, you may have had the realization that the use of a ventilator and/or respirator both short term and possibly long term may be necessary for the treatment for COVID-19 for some patients. Now is a good time to explain to your designated Patient Advocate and successors that this language does not mean you do not want a ventilator if you get COVID-19. You may want to explain that if you get COVID-19, you do expect to recover from it, as the odds of survival far surpass the chances of death, and that you want all treatment necessary to enable your survival, including being placed on a ventilator. If you require modifications or the preparation of a Patient Advocate Designation, you can do so from the comfort of your own home. If you would like to make modifications to your current plan or need to prepare a plan, Michigan Executive Order 2020-74 allows for notaries and witnesses to now finalize documents through video conferencing. To ensure your Patient Advocate Designations are valid, they must be witnessed by two individuals who are not your Patient Advocate, heirs, beneficiaries, or employees of a healthcare facility where you are a patient, among others. Remote signing gives you the ability to have two independent individuals as your witnesses so that your Patient Advocate Designation will be effective when needed.
Our office is currently conducting Zoom meetings to discuss and execute Patient Advocate Designations and other estate planning documents remotely. It’s free to use the Zoom meeting platform. Our client checklists make the process easy to understand and Zoom allows us to execute the documents without face-to-face contact. Torree J. Breen is an attorney and shareholder at Willingham & Cote’, P.C. in East Lansing, Michigan, and also practices in our Traverse City office. She specializes in the areas of estate planning, family law, and liquor license violations. Ms. Breen may be reached at 517-324-1034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.