Bill Would Change Post-Death Decision Making in Michigan


Michigan law currently permits any resident to designate a "patient advocate" during his or her lifetime. The patient advocate is tasked with making health care decisions – often including the ability to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment – up until the moment of the principal's death. Once that individual has died, however, the patient advocate's authority to act on the individual's behalf, including to make decisions for funeral and burial arrangements, ceases.

A person residing in Michigan may set forth funeral and burial instructions in his or her will, or name a person who will make those decisions. Despite that ability, state law allows a family member to trump those designated decision-makers or the specified directions. However, that fact may change. House Bill 5162, which has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives, but is currently in Committee, would grant an individual the ability to name a non-relative designee to make final funeral and burial arrangements without concern that a family member might trump those decisions. This can be important in situations where an elderly individual has no close family relations upon whom he or she can rely or in a long-term relationship but in which the couple is not married.

Whether this bill will progress through the legislature remains to be seen, as this is not the first time similar legislation has been discussed. However, for those individuals who rely on non-family members to make their important decisions for health care, it will be important to monitor the status of this proposed legislation.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Varnum LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Varnum LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.