Table of Contents
- Download a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care Sample
- The Basics: What is a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care?
- Who Should Have a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care?
- How to Select Your Agent
- Which Decisions Can Your Agent Make on Your Behalf?
- What to Do if You Change Your Mind
- How to Complete Your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care
1. Download a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care Sample
2. The Basics: What Is a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care?
An integral part of the estate planning process, a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care allows you to specify how you will be cared for if you become incapacitated — and who will be responsible for making difficult decisions related to your care. This document can also be used to authorize or refuse anatomical gifts after you pass away.
As you draft your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care, you will likely see the following terms:
- Principal: This is the person who drafts and executes the power of attorney for health care in Wisconsin. In this case, the principal refers to you.
- Incapacity: References an inability to effectively evaluate information or communicate decisions. Due to this inability, a person who is said to lack capacity cannot manage his or her own healthcare.
- Health Care Agent: This person acts as your representative as soon as you are declared incapacitated. Your agent is responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf.
- Health Care Decision: This term involves informed decisions to accept, refuse, or discontinue medical care.
These and other key terms are outlined in detail in Chapter 155, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
For reference, this Wisconsin document is also known as:
- Advance Directive
- Health Care Directive
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
3. Who Should Have a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care?
If you reside in Wisconsin and care about your future, you are the perfect candidate for a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care. You may currently be young and in excellent health, but that can change in the blink of an eye. Your medical power of attorney provides the protection you’ll need, should the worst-case scenario arise.
Wisconsin residents find themselves drafting and executing health care powers of attorney at many stages of life. The following are a few of the scenarios most likely to prompt this document:
- Illness or injury
- Death of a loved one
- Moving to a new state
- Beginning a new job
If you’re about to enter a new phase of life, estate planning concerns are well worth considering. Do you feel confident about your future? If not, a Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care may grant the peace of mind you crave.
4. How to Select Your Agent
By far the most important choice you’ll make as you draft your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care: your agent. This person holds considerable authority over your future. Your agent should be capable of upholding the responsibilities outlined in Chapter 155, Section 20 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Several factors are worth considering as you choose the right person to take on this important job:
- What are your agent’s beliefs regarding end-of-life care? While Wisconsin law does not outright require you and your agent to share the exact same beliefs, a similar worldview may make it easier for your agent to abide by your wishes. If you and your agent disagree on matters such as resuscitation, you should feel confident that should such a situation arise, your agent would set aside his or her beliefs and abide by the instructions outlined in your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care.
- Can your agent handle the emotional weight of this role? Sometimes, agents are surprised by just how difficult it is to make decisions on behalf of a loved one who has become incapacitated. If you suspect that your agent will struggle significantly under the emotional burden of this job, consider granting the role to somebody else.
As you weigh your options, be sure to discuss this matter with potential agents. They deserve to know your intentions well in advance.
5. Which Decisions Can Your Agent Make on Your Behalf?
As soon as you are declared incapacitated by a physician, your agent receives extensive authority over your healthcare. From this point forward, your agent can make the following decisions:
- Receive and examine official information regarding your medical status and current level of care.
- Admit you into a nursing home under the conditions outlined in Chapter 155, Section 20 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
- Approve the use of or withholding of feeding tubes based on instructions in your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care.
- Consent to or refuse proposed medications, surgeries, or other treatments.
Which Decisions Are Prohibited?
The state of Wisconsin places several restrictions on health care agents, as highlighted in Chapter 155, Section 20 of the Wisconsin Statutes. Agents cannot consent to the following:
- Experimental mental health research
- Electroconvulsive treatment
Agents can only consent to withholding or withdrawing a feeding tube if authorized by the power of attorney for health care document. Even then, this ability could be restricted if the attending physician advises that withholding a feeding tube could cause the patient pain or discomfort.
6. What to Do If You Change Your Mind
It is not unheard of for Wisconsin residents to change their mind after designating someone as an agent in a power of attorney for health care form. Options for revoking your power of attorney for health care, mentioned in Chapter 155, Section 40 of the Wisconsin Statutes, include:
- Tearing, burning, defacing, canceling, obliterating, or otherwise destroying the document
- Instructing someone to destroy the document on your behalf in your presence
- Drafting a statement of intent to revoke
- Verbally expressing intent to revoke in the presence of two witnesses
7. How to Complete Your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care
Once you’ve selected — and discussed matters with — your agent, it is time to move forward with your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care. Depending on your preferences, this document could be simple and straightforward or it could go into extensive detail.
When you sign your power of attorney for health care, two witnesses must be present. As with agent selection, several restrictions apply to power of attorney witnesses, as stated in Chapter 155, Section 10 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
- Both witnesses should be at least 18 years old.
- Witnesses cannot be related to you by marriage, domestic partnership, adoption, or blood.
- An individual who is directly financially responsible for your health care cannot be your witness.
- If a person has knowledge that they’re entitled to or has claim to any portion of your estate, they’re unable to act as your witness.
- Healthcare providers cannot serve as witnesses if they are responsible for your care at the time the document is signed.
- Your agent cannot also act as your witness.
If you are unable to sign your Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care on your own, a representative aged 18 years or older can do so at your discretion and if you are present.
A Wisconsin Power of Attorney for Health Care could make all the difference for your medical treatment and your loved ones peace of mind. The sooner you complete this essential estate planning document, the better.