Powers of Attorney By Brian R. Jenney

Often I receive phone calls of distraught parents who are very upset that they cannot obtain medical information on their son or daughter. This is because the child has obtained the age of 18 years and is no longer considered a minor in the State of Michigan. If the child is unconscious or unable to make informed decisions regarding his or her care then he or she is unable to give consent to the physicians to discuss his or her condition with his or her parents.

To avoid this very frustrating situation, I advise all of my clients to have their son or daughter contact me while they are on break from college to plan a meeting to review and execute a Patient Advocate Designation for him or her.

Similarly, many young college age children spend time in Europe or at other interesting parts of the world. In order to manage any assets or bank accounts your child may have, the son or daughter should execute a Durable Power of Attorney. This permits the designated agent, usually one of the parents as the primary agent and the other parent as the back-up, to make financial decisions for their son or daughter while they are unable. This Durable Power of Attorney, among many other general powers, will also permit the parents to contact any credit card company and sign tax returns on behalf of their son or daughter.

Both the Patient Advocate Designation and the Durable Power of Attorney are documents that every adult over the age of 18 years should have. Michigan law permits an adult to execute a Durable Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designation pursuant to MCL §700.5501. “An individual 18 years of age or older who is of sound mind at the time a patient advocate designation is made may designate in writing another individual who is 18 years of age or older to exercise powers concerning care, custody, and medical or mental health treatment decisions for the individual making the patient advocate designation.” MCL §700.5506. The Patient Advocate Designation may also grant his or her patient advocate the authority to make an anatomical gift of all or part of the individual’s body.

You may recall the litigation regarding the Terri Schiavo, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Martin (Michigan case) as to who was able to make certain life or death decisions on their behalf. The Patient Advocate Designation contains your directions regarding end of life decisions and appoints the individual you want to make those decisions on your behalf.

As with any rule involving Medicaid and health care, these exceptions can be tricky to understand, or use. If this is ever a concern of yours, please contact us, and we’ll assist you in getting the help you need.


For further information regarding these matters, please contact Mr. Jenney at 248.740.5688 or click here to send an email.

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