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Patients & Visitors Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning

​​​​​Advance medical directives are written documents regarding your wishes for medical treatment. They guide health care providers and your family in the event you become incapacitated and cannot express your wishes. Both the Power of Attorney for Health Care and the Declaration to Physicians, when properly completed and signed, are essential parts of good planning and medical care.

How to Complete Advance Directive Forms

The most important document is a Power of Attorney for Health Care ​form, which allows you to appoint someone to make treatment decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so.

This person should be someone who is at least 18 years of age and who knows your values and wishes. He or she must be willing to make decisions that are consistent with your wishes and communicate those wishes to the health care team. This is usually a spouse, trusted relative or friend.

A Power of Attorney for Health Care document can also include an addendum to specify your treatment preferences. ​

Declaration to Physicians (Living Will)

A Declaration to Physicians spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you would or would not want if you had a terminal condition or were in a persistent vegetative state. While this document does not authorize anyone to make decisions on your behalf, it does indicate the types of treatment (or lack of treatment) you would want. This is especially important if you do not have a power of attorney for health care or your agent is unavailable.

If you have both a Declaration to Physicians and a Power of Attorney for Health Care, be sure they are consistent. If there is any conflict between the two, the Power of Attorney for Health Care will overrule the Declaration to Physicians.​

How to prepare forms

To complete the Advance Directive form(s) of your choice, please complete the following steps:​

  • ​​​Download the form from the State of Wisconsin​
  • Complete the Power of Attorney for Health Care and/or Declaration to Physicians forms, sign the forms, have your agent sign the forms, and have witnesses sign. You do not need an attorney but you m​ay wish to consult with an attorney.​
  • After you complete and sign the forms, give copies of the form(s) directly to your doctor. 
  • Be sure to discuss your wishes with your proxy so that your intentions are clear. 
Remember, completed advance directives should be kept in TWO places:
  • Safely stored with your other legal documents in an accessible place or with your attorney;
  • On file with your doctor, as part of your medical record. Some people choose to make and carry a wallet card which indicates where these forms are located and/or the name and contact information of their attorneys.

With your signed and completed advanced directives forms on file, you can be assured your wishes regarding health care will be respected.