It’s summer, and sooner or later, most of us will get around to taking that much needed, and long overdue, vacation. Doubtless, the first thing we’ll remember to pack will be our health care advance directive or patient advocate designation documents. Otherwise, how can we be certain that our wishes will be followed if something happens when we’re far away from home?
While the preceding may come across as a somewhat flippant approach to what can be a very serious situation, the point to be made is that even those of us who have taken the time to have these documents prepared and properly executed probably wouldn’t even consider, much less remember, to take them with us when we travel. Thanks to a new law that was signed by Governor Snyder on June 19, 2012, this no longer needs to be a concern for Michigan residents.
New legislation makes Michigan the first state to establish and provide a centralized registry for the filing of health care directives and organ donation documents. The “Peace of Mind Registry” will be a secure database that will provide health care providers access to a patient’s advance directives containing the identity of their patient advocates, preferences, and directions for the making of health care decisions concerning themselves in situations where they are not able to make or communicate their own health care decisions.
The registry will be under the oversight of the Michigan Department of Community Health, but will be developed and maintained through financial support by Michigan’s Gift of Life Foundation, as opposed to taxpayer dollars.
The Peace of Mind Registry will be free and voluntary. Those who join will receive a wallet sized card documenting the registration. Signed directives and organ donation documents can be uploaded electronically or mailed for entry into the registry. Previous registrations can be revoked, and updated documents can be registered in the same fashion. Once the documents are filed, the Peace of Mind Registry will enable hospitals, physicians and health care providers, no matter where they are located, and without charge, to search for and obtain the documents online. Copies can then be downloaded to the health care providers’ electronic medical records systems.
As the first state to establish a Peace of Mind Registry, it is anticipated that the Michigan law will become the national model for other states. The full text of the new law (Act 179 of the Public Acts of 2012, codified as Michigan Compiled Laws Section 333.10301) can be found at: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(rlhn3vega1whnyqsojv0yrye))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-333-10301. Additional comments concerning the new law can be found at: http://www.misenategop.com/senators/readarticle.asp?id=5282&District=12.
The attorneys at Wright Beamer are well experienced in assisting clients in fulfilling their estate planning needs, including the drafting of health care advance directives; we’d be happy to help you.