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End of Life Planning: Advance Directives

Posted on in Estate Planning

Milwaukee estate planning lawyer, end of life planning, advance directives, healthcare power of attorney, living willHaving a plan in place with regard to one’s assets and affairs post death is essential. However, it is equally important to have specific instructions about what should happen if one becomes incapacitated. As a person nears the end of his or her life, setting these instructions, known as advance directives or healthcare directives, down in a legal document can ensure that his or her wishes regarding medical care are carried out correctly.

Wisconsin Advance Directives

Advance directives allow a person to specify how decisions about his or her healthcare will be handled if he or she becomes incapacitated or is unable to make decisions for himself or herself.

The following advance directives are available for Wisconsin residents:

  • Living Will - Also known as a Declaration to Physicians, this type of directive describes what type of care a person should receive if he or she is terminally ill or is in an irreversible persistent vegetative state and cannot understand or express his or her choices about healthcare. This document specifies which life-sustaining treatments should or should not be used, and the document goes into effect when a patient is examined and diagnosed with a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state by two physicians. Doctors are legally required to abide by the terms of a living will.

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney - This type of directive appoints a person (known as an agent) who is authorized to make healthcare decisions for someone who is unable to make decisions for himself or herself. This authority extends beyond what is specified in a living will, applying any time a person is unable to make his or her own decisions, whether he or she has a terminal condition or not. In addition to decisions about life-sustaining treatments, an agent may make more general healthcare decisions, such as whether to administer medications or perform surgery. Moreover, a power of attorney document can specify which decisions an agent is authorized to make. Healthcare power of attorney goes into effect when two physicians agree in writing that a person is unable to understand his or her healthcare options or express his or her choices regarding treatment.

  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order - A person may use this type of directive to instruct emergency medical providers (including paramedics and first responders) that CPR should not be used if he or she stops breathing or his or her heart stops beating. After receiving a DNR order, a person may obtain an ID bracelet which instructs medical providers of his or her wishes.

Contact a Milwaukee Estate Planning Attorney

Whether you are nearing the end of your life or simply want to address every possible eventuality that you may face, advance directives can ensure that your wishes will be carried out correctly if you ever become incapacitated.

The attorneys of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP can help you understand your rights and options in end of life planning, and we will work with you to create and execute the legal documents that will provide for your needs. Contact a Milwaukee estate planning lawyer today at 414-271-1440.




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