Always a Good Decision: Health Care Providers Join in Extolling the Benefits of Planning for Incapacity, End-of-Life Choices

Doctor Talking to a Patient

Medical practitioners and social workers across Wisconsin have joined the chorus of estate planning attorneys throughout the state in hailing the advantages of planning for the possibility of mental incapacity and the certainty of death, and the important health care decisions that often must be made in these situations. Through proper planning and document execution, all Wisconsinites have the ability to assert control over the end-of-life care they receive, and who makes care decisions for them when they cannot.

At a recent conference, Honoring Choices Wisconsin received praise for its promotion of this type of planning, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Honoring Choices Wisconsin is an initiative of the Wisconsin Medical Society, and based upon the Respecting Choices program started at the Gunderson Health System in LaCrosse two decades ago. The programs correctly explain that truly complete end-of-life and incapacity planning involves much more than just executing health care powers of attorney or living wills, although these are important tools.

Complete planning also involves a dialogue with your health care agent, so that you (and your agent) can feel confident that he/she understands your preferences and desires regarding your care once you cannot make your own decisions. As John Maycroft, policy and strategic initiatives director with the Wisconsin Medical Society, told the Journal, “It’s about a conversation that helps equip your agent to make decisions for you if you’re in a position where you can’t speak for yourself.” Additionally, the medical society’s website noted that proper incapacity planning can also substantially improve the quality of your end-of-life care.

The initiative revealed that many more patients were willing to engage in discussions about incapacity planning than to complete an advance directive document. However, the initiative properly pointed out that both were positive outcomes. As these medical providers correctly recognized, every successful plan begins with the initiation of a dialogue about planning. Acknowledging the need and having that first conversation are often the biggest steps leading to putting the necessary plan in place.

In Wisconsin, anyone age 18 or older can make an advance directive. You may state your incapacity planning wishes in either a living will or a power of attorney for health care. An attorney can help you determine if, for your situation, a living will, health care power of attorney, or both are best.

One of the most important benefits of estate planning is allowing you to maintain control, and express your preferences, even when you cannot speak for yourself. There is no greater personal sense of control than the control over your own body and the medical care you receive. To ensure that you have a plan in place for your medical care in end-of-life or incapacity situations, consult with estate planning attorney Daniel J. Krause of Krause Law Offices LLC. He can help you begin the necessary dialogue that results in placing your desires and objectives recorded in legal documents that will allow you to maintain control in any situation. Contact Attorney Daniel J. Krause today.

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