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If you’ve arrived at this article then you are probably wondering, “what is a Wisconsin advance directive?” Simply put, it is a legally operative method of informing your healthcare provider and your family of your wishes should you become incapacitated in regard to feeding tubes and lifesaving medical intervention. It is a personal directive that is created to protect your end of life wishes and to instruct others on how you want to be treated when you are unable to speak for yourself.  

If you’ve arrived at this article then you are probably wondering, “what is a Wisconsin advance directive?” Simply put, it is a legally operative method of informing your healthcare provider and your family of your wishes should you become incapacitated in regard to feeding tubes and lifesaving medical intervention. It is a personal directive that is created to protect your end of life wishes and to instruct others on how you want to be treated when you are unable to speak for yourself.  

What Types of Advance Directives Are There?

There are generally four types of advance directive that you should be aware of when planning for the future.  

  • Living Will
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney
  • Power of Attorney for Finance and Property (durable)
  • Authorization for Final Disposition

All four types will be explained below.

What advance directive should I have as a resident of Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin an advance directive is actually two forms, a living will and a healthcare power of attorney

Living Will

Sometimes the living will is also referred to as the directive to physicians and family or surrogates. What a living will in Wisconsin is a medical directive clearly advising your doctor and family and/or friends what your wishes are if you become incapacitated and are unable to discuss or consent to what you want done in regard to medical treatment. It is also the document that addresses what you want in the event that you are on life support and/or require a feeding tube to stay alive. You must be deemed incapacitated by at least one doctor for this part of the directive to go into effect.  

Once you have a living will drafted, it is essential that you have two witnesses to your signature. The witness cannot be anyone who is related to you in any way and cannot be responsible for the cost of your health care, be entitled to any part of your estate should you pass away and they cannot be your health care provider. In other words the witness cannot benefit from your death and they cannot eventually responsible for your health care. The witnesses must be over the age of 18 years old and will be immune from any potential civil liability should the document be disputed.

Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A person with a healthcare power of attorney is the person who makes your healthcare decisions when you cannot. Ideally is will be someone who you know well who is very familiar with your wishes concerning long term care and lifesaving medical intervention. You will need a healthcare power of attorney to complete your Wisconsin Advance Directive. The Power of Attorney will take effect if two physicians or a physician and a psychologist find you incapable of making your own medical decisions. The rules for witnesses are the same for a healthcare power of attorney as they are for a Living Will.  

Once you have properly executed the two documents you need for a Wisconsin Advanced Directive you should:

  1. Save a copy for your records
  1. Give a copy to your health care proxy
  1. Give a copy to your doctor

You can file it with the Registrar of Probate in your county of residence if you wish, you are not required to. There is small fee for filing the advance directives with the Registrar.

The other two Wisconsin advance directive documents:

Power of Attorney for Finance and Property (durable)

The Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Finance and Property is a legal document in which you authorize another person to make decisions regarding your property for you if you become incapacitated. That includes paying your medical bills. The documents does not authorize that named individual to make healthcare decisions for you. The reason it is referred to as “durable” is because it does not terminate if you (the “principal”) becomes incapacitated. The Power of Attorney for Finance and Property becomes effective upon signing. Consider carefully prior to signed one and it is recommended that you consult with a Wisconsin attorney if you are considering signing one.  

Authorization for Final Disposition

This document is essentially what you wishes are in regard to your funeral arrangements. You will name a representative to handle your burial or cremation. You will also be allowed to appoint two successor representatives in the even the first representative is unable to serve. There is not a witness requirement for this document.  

Can my family override my advance directives?

Your family cannot override your living will. It is assumed that you are of sound mind when you have your living will drafted and you have a right to dictate what healthcare and treatment plans you accept. The living will is a legal document and as long as it is properly drafted and properly witnessed (as discussed above) it will hold up in court. If you have concerns that members of your family will contest your Living Will you should consult with an experienced Wisconsin estate attorney who can address your concerns and devise the best plan for you.

What happens if I don’t have an advance directive?

There is no way to predict what will happen other than your wishes regarding long term healthcare and life saving medical intervention might not be considered when a treatment plan is being created for you. If you have specific opinions and beliefs about end of life care or care in the event of a cataphoric injury you should have advance directives in place.  

Can I fill out my own advance directive?

There are online forms that you can fill out yourself but, as always, with any legal document it is best to consult with a Wisconsin Estate attorney who can discuss your questions and concerns and then draft documents created for your specific needs.

 

No one likes to think about these types of things and that is completely understandable but consider the fact that you will be making your wishes crystal clear for your family and friends in the event that the worst does happen. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. If you would like to know more about what your advance directive in Wisconsin should include you should consult with an experienced Wisconsin estate planning attorney to go over your options.

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