Frequently Asked Questions

What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance Care Planning is a process of coming to understand, reflect on, discuss, and plan for a time when you cannot make your own medical decisions. Effective planning is the best way to make sure your views are respected by your loved ones and health providers. This process provides great comfort to those who may make end-of-life decisions for you. Good advance care planning improves the quality of your advance directive.

What is an Advance Directive (AD)?

Advance directives are documents that describe what type of medical care you want in the future, or who you want to make healthcare decisions for you should you become unable to speak for yourself.

What is the Difference between Advance Care Planning and an AD?

Advance care planning is the thought process of reflecting on future medical care preferences, selecting a patient advocate, and communicating your choices to your loved ones and healthcare providers whereas an advance directive is a legal document that summarizes a person’s future healthcare wishes.

What is the Difference between a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Advance Directive?

A Living Will is a written document in which you inform doctors, family members, and others what type of medical care you wish to receive should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is a written document in which you appoint another individual to make medical treatment and related personal care decisions for you.

In Michigan, a living will is not legally binding while a durable power of attorney for healthcare is.

For further information, view the Your Health Your Choice Fact Sheet – Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare vs. Living Will.

Why should I use a Certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator to Complete My AD?

Certified advance care planning facilitators are highly trained to help individuals clarify personal values, beliefs, and preferences for end-of-life care. They can assist you in choosing a patient advocate and communicating your wishes with family members and loved ones. (They help make sure that your advance directive accurately reflects what your future healthcare wishes are.) Their services are available at no cost.

Does an AD need to be Notarized to be Legal?

No. The law does not require an AD to be notarized to be legal.

To be considered legal, the AD declaration must be in writing, signed by you, and witnessed by two adults not related to you or providing your healthcare.

What is a Patient Advocate and How do I Choose One?

A patient advocate is an individual that you choose to make medical decisions for you when you cannot make your own medical decisions.

Any person age 18 or older is eligible to become a patient advocate. You can appoint your spouse, an adult child, a friend or other individuals. You should choose someone you trust, who can handle the responsibility, and who is willing to act in your best interest. A certified advance care planning facilitator can help you decide who may be the most appropriate person to serve as your patient advocate.

Can I Still Make My Own Healthcare Decisions Once I Have Completed an AD?

Yes, as long as you are capable of making your own decisions, you remain in control of your own medical care. If you’re unable to make your decisions, your patient advocate assumes responsibility for making healthcare decisions for you.

What should I do once I’ve completed my AD?

Give the original AD to your patient advocate(s), give a copy to your primary care doctor and other doctors, provide a copy to the hospital you use, and keep a copy for yourself.

If you provide a Your Health Your Choice ACP facilitator with a copy of your AD, it will automatically be uploaded to a secure, HIPAA compliant electronic storage system that will make your AD available to all three Genesee County hospitals and eventually most of the hospitals in Michigan.

When should I update my AD?

You may update your AD at any time to name a different patient advocate or change your medical treatment wishes. It is important that the information in your AD is always current. Review it once a year or when events in your life change. So long as you are of sound mind, you can sign a new AD and distribute it to those who have a copy of the old one.

Will Another State Honor my AD?

Not necessarily. Every state has its own laws and regulations regarding advance care planning. That’s why it is a good idea to always take a copy of your AD with you when traveling out of state.

How do I schedule a Free Advance Care Planning Facilitation Appointment?

Certified facilitators are available throughout the community to help you with your advance care planning needs. To schedule a free advance care planning facilitation appointment, click on the “Make an Appointment” link under the “Free Help” tab above (on this site).

My question was not answered. How do I receive additional Advance Care Planning Information?

To receive additional advance care planning information, please click on the “Contact Us” link above (on this site) and contact the Greater Flint Health Coalition.