Trends in 2015: Advance Care Planning

January 30, 2015

As lawyers with decades of experience helping Wisconsin families prepare for their futures, we keep an eye on estate planning changes and trends, particularly those affected by local, state and federal laws. For 2015, we expect to see a notable rise in Advance Care Planning through the Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care. This approach has become increasing more commonplace with residents of Wisconsin when planning their advance health care decision making.

Why Will Advance Care Planning Be a Trend in 2015 and Beyond?

There will be a new emphasis by Wisconsin hospitals, health care providers, attorneys and interest groups to promote the use of a properly drafted Power of Attorney For Health Care in Wisconsin. These medical facilities are eager to avoid situations where a person becomes ill to the point of no longer being able to make his or her own health care decisions without having detailed, written instructions about important healthcare issues like end-of-life care and Do Not Resuscitate orders. Patients without sufficient advance care planning make it difficult for doctors and medical professionals to offer the level of care that the patient would want. As the patient did not communicate his or her wishes before becoming incapacitated, it is very likely that the patient will require a court appointed guardian to make his or her health care decisions.

Stop Nursing Homes From Taking Your Assets

With proper advanced planning, you can protect your assets from nursing homes.

As you can imagine, the involvement of the courts in issues of medical healthcare and treatment is often a costly process, both for the state and for the patient.

The real issue though is not one of cost. In advance care planning cases, the real issue with a court-appointed guardian is that the guardian will be no more informed of the patient’s wishes than the medical professionals.

This expensive, inevitably stressful, process can be avoided with proper advance care planning by the thoughtful completion of a legally compliant Power of Attorney for Health Care along with directions to your health care agent and a discussion with your health care agent.

Proper Advance Health Care Planning Will Make a Big Difference

Imagine your spouse, children or loved ones trying to determine what type of care you would want if you are unable to communicate with them. Imagine that they have to go to court to become legally allowed to make health care decisions for you. Imagine the stress, confusion and guilt of not knowing if what they decide is what you want.

Now, imagine your spouse, children or loved one not having to go to court and knowing what you want. Think of the stress, confusion and guilt that they avoided by knowing that they are doing what you would want, even though you are no longer able to communicate with them. A good Advance Directive will help you communicate with your appointed agent in advance of incapacity, so that he or she knows your desires and wishes.

A property drafted and properly discussed Power of Attorney for Health Care can help guide your agent when you are no longer able to make your own decisions or no longer able to communicate your health care desires.

More Than a “Legally Compliant” Document is Required

The use of a standardized health care advance directive form, without further knowledge, discussion, and guidance will not adequately inform your agent of your desires. It is not enough just to complete a legal document. That’s not thorough enough advance care planning.

As estate planning attorneys who have drafted thousands of advance directives for clients, we understand that the real task in advance care planning is drafting a legally compliant document that informs your Health Care agent about your wishes especially as they relate to the use of artificial equipment and end of life treatment. Steps must be taken to ensure that your chosen agent knows and understands your wishes while you can still effectively communicate them. Waiting until your agent reads your wishes from a legal document will greatly reduce the chances that your agent truly understands your wishes about the use of artificial equipment and end-of-life care.

A Power of Attorney for Health Care that goes beyond “legal compliance” will help inform your agent about your desires with respect to end of life care, the use or non-use of feeding tubes, and the use or non-use of artificial equipment and other “life sustaining procedures” depending upon your health condition. It will also encourage the discussion with your health care agent about your desires.

The Proper Distribution of Your Advance Directive is Crucial

Your agent and doctors need to know that your health care document exists.  Therefore, the proper distribution of your document before you become ill is crucial for its intended use. It is the only estate-planning document that we routinely suggest that our clients share with loved ones and doctors in advance of illness.

How We Can Help

Since 1958, Wokwicz Law Offices have been helping families and individuals with advance care planning. With more than 70 years of combined legal experience, our attorneys have a deep understanding of estate planning. We know that a properly drafted Power of Attorney For Health Care, with proper language and guidance, will help achieve the following:

  1. Adequately inform your agent that you detailed advance care planning with a proper advance directive for your health;
  2. Set out with explicit clarity your desires with respect to end of life care and the use of artificial equipment, feeding tubes, and “life sustaining procedures” in the event that you are unable to make your own decisions in the future;
  3. Ensure that your agent, loved ones and health care providers can care for you consistent your health care and end of life desires and wishes.
  4. Alleviate stress, confusion and guilt faced by your loved one’s when making health care and end of life decisions for you;
  5. Save you and your loved ones time and money by avoiding unnecessary and unwanted health care at the end of life and unnecessary guardianship court fees and expenses.

If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your advance care planning with our estate planning attorneys, please contact Wokwicz Law Offices on 262-658-2181 or via

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This article is intended as general legal information and not as legal advice to any particular client, nor is it intended as advice on any particular issue or matter. If you have any questions regarding the subject matter of this article, or wish to discuss how the subject matter of this article may apply to your situation, please contact us.