Especially if you are young or are healthy, you likely have not considered the possibility of becoming physically or mentally incapacitated. However, an accident or illness could occur at any time and leave you unable to speak and care for yourself. Therefore, no matter your age or health, it is important for you and others in Wisconsin to understand what advance directives are and how you may benefit from them.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the two primary elements of advance directives are durable powers of attorney for health care and living wills. Through a power of attorney, you may name a health care proxy to make decisions on your behalf regarding your medical treatment and care if you cannot speak for yourself. A living will dictates the types of treatments that you would or would not want to receive, as well as the conditions under which your choices are applicable. You may also choose to include supplementary documents that express your preferences regarding issues that were not addressed in your living will or specific medical issues.

Advance directives are important because, without them, you might not have discussed your wishes with your family members or health care providers. These documents clearly lay out your desires, which may help ensure you receive the care you want in the event you cannot speak for yourself. They also help make certain that you do not receive treatment and are not put through procedures that you would not agree to on your own. This may help alleviate some of the burden for your family members and friends because you will have already made the choices are laid out a path to guide their decisions.

This post contains general information only and should not be taken as legal advice.