April 22, 2014 – To recognize Healthcare Decisions Day, an event that reminds folks to complete an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding end-of-life decisions, the State Bar has made its consumer guide, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, available for free downloading until April 23.
A Gift to Your Family 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. The guide also includes state forms to help people put their wishes in writing.
Under Wisconsin law, competent adults have the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, and the right to be an organ and tissue donor. An estimated 80 percent of Wisconsin residents, including 50 percent of those with severe or terminal illnesses, have not completed an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding end-of-life decisions.
“If you want your wishes to be met at the end of your life, you need to consider medical care and organ donation ahead of time, and share those thoughts with your family and legal counsel in writing,” said Attorney Ben Adams, adviser to the State Bar Elder Law Section.
Adams and fellow State Bar Elder Law Section member Michael Kujawski have also teamed up in a new video to get the word out about A Gift to Your Family and Healthcare Decisions Day.
Kujawski knows about the issue of health care decisions, both as an attorney and as a caring relative who was named an agent by two family members. Kujawski said talking about your feelings regarding end-of-life decisions with those close to you is crucial. The conversations may be tough, but your loved ones will appreciate the guidance even if they do not realize it at the time.
“People really need to have the talk. It is such a different experience when you’re the one in the hot seat having to make the decisions,” said Attorney Kujawski. “Dying with dignity is important, and it really needs to be respected.”
For more information contact Attorney Andrea Gage, public relations coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at org agage wisbar wisbar agage org, or by phone at (608) 250-6025.
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.