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  • InsideTrack
  • April 01, 2020

    Who Will Be Making Your Healthcare Decisions?

    In recognition of Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, the State Bar is offering a free download – through April 25 – of our health care decisions guide, “A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs.”
    family walk

    April 1, 2020 – An estimated 80 percent of Wisconsin residents have not completed an advance directive documenting their preferences about issues surrounding health care decisions.

    And in the age of coronavirus, advance care planning is as important as ever.

    Are you one of the 80 percent? You have ideas about what you would like to happen regarding health care decisions for yourself. But do your family members know your wishes? Are your clients prepared?

    Start the Conversation

    From April 12 through April 25, the State Bar is offering a free download of the PDF, A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, a health care decisions planning guide.

    As it does each year, the State Bar is offering this guide at no cost in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day on April 16, 2020, the annual initiative that serves as a reminder to let your family know your wishes about advance care planning. Use this event to talk to your family and clients about their needs as well.

    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.

    A Gift to Your Family offers practical insights on a range of issues surrounding health care 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.

    Planning Guide PDF Available Free through April 25

    Wisconsin is participating in the annual initiative the State Bar of Wisconsin offers members and the public free access to its end-of-life planning tool.

    “Due to accidents or illness, three out of four people will be unable to make some or all of their medical decisions at the end of life,” said attorney Ben Adams, advisor to the State Bar Elder Law & Special Needs Section. “If this happens to you, doctors need to know who can make decisions for you.”

    Adams said that a medical decision-maker needs to have some idea of who the patient is and what his or her values are in order to make decisions on the patient’s behalf.

    “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,” Adams said. “But the court process can be avoided in most cases if you do advanced care planning.”

    The State Bar has distributed more than 500,000 print planning guides to hospitals, clinics, lawyers, and the public. The 24-page A Gift to Your Family, now in its eighth printing, initially was produced in 2000 through a partnership with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center. The guide is also available in Spanish.

    How to Order A Gift to Your Family in Print

    To order the print guide for family, friends, or clients, visit’s Marketplace for the guide in English or in Spanish. The cost is $4 for State Bar members; discounts are available for larger quantities.

    Your Questions Answered – Live on Wisconsin Public Radio April 14

    Tune in April 14 to hear more about end-of-life planning when elder law attorney Ben Adams of Adams & Woodrow S.C., Neenah, appears on Wisconsin Public Radio’s (WPR) Larry Meiller Show from 11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. Ellen Koski, executive director of the Fox Valley Advance Care Planning Partnership in Appleton, will join in the discussion

    Join Larry, Ben, and Ellen to hear tips and a discussion – and get answers to your own questions. Listen live on WPR's Ideas Network stations or on the WPR website.

    If you miss the broadcast, you can find it on the Larry Meiller Show Archives.


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