April 17, 2013 – Finding a medical decision maker and ensuring that they know you and your values is the key to successful end-of-life planning. It’s also the core message in a new video produced by the State Bar of Wisconsin.
“A medical decision maker must have a sense of who you are and what your values are in order to make decisions on your behalf,” says Ben Adams, Elder Law Section former chair. “If you haven’t named someone in a health care power of attorney document and you become incapacitated or incompetent, then it’s likely that a court proceeding will be needed to appoint a medical decision maker for you. But the court process can be avoided in most cases if you do advance care planning."
In his gubernatorial proclamation Scott Walker encourages all residents to have important personal conversations with family, friends, and health care providers and to prepare for eventual end-of-life care and treatment options and to complete reliable advance directives.
Despite recent gains in public awareness of the need for advance care planning, studies indicate that most Americans have not exercised their right to make decisions about their health care in the event that they cannot speak for themselves, according to National Health Care Decisions Day initiative findings.
“The Elder Law Section is once again proud to participate in National Health Care Decisions Day along with a broad array of other organizations,” said Adams. “We hope that you will participate with us to raise awareness about these important issues across the country.”
Under Wisconsin law, competent adults have the right to control decisions about their future medical care, including the right to accept or refuse treatment, and the right to be an organ and tissue donor. Adams recommends the State Bar’s consumer guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, as great tool to start the conversation. The guide offers practical insights on a range of issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, such as power of attorney for health care, living wills, and organ and tissue donation. A Gift to Your Family also includes state forms to help people put their wishes in writing. The guide can be downloaded for free through the month of April at WisBar.org.
Special Offers Available in April
Free electronic access to A Gift for Your Family is available at WisBar.org. State Bar members also can purchase print copies of A Gift for Your Family for $1 each, plus tax and shipping, through April 30. To receive this special offer, call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or (608) 257-3838. When ordering online, members must log in to WisBar to receive the discounted price. Members should use code GC0033 to order English copies and GC0126 to order Spanish copies.
The 24-page A Gift to Your Family, now in its seventh printing, initially was produced in 2000 through a partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. In 2006, the State Bar Communications Committee partnered with the Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association to make the guide available in Spanish. The State Bar has distributed more than 500,000 print planning guides to hospitals, clinics, lawyers, and the public.