April 1, 2015 – Finding the right medical decision maker and ensuring that they know you and your values is the key to successful end-of-life planning,” according to attorney Ben Adams, an advisor to the State Bar Elder Law Section.
“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 Adams in the video produced by the State Bar of Wisconsin. “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, Gov. Scott Walker encourages all residents to have important personal conversations with family, friends, and health care providersand 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 Healthcare Decisions Day initiative findings.
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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.
In support of Healthcare Decisions Day, the guide will be available on WisBar.org as a free download for one week beginning April 15.
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.