Advance Care Planning FAQs


Where do I start?

One way to make your wishes known is to put them in writing through an advance directive or living will form, like the Honoring Choices Wisconsin, Making Choices Michigan, or Five Wishes® forms.

An advance directive is a legal document that can be made free of cost. Without this legal document, your health care providers do not know your important medical care decisions such as life-support, pain management or hospice choices.

Why do I need an advance directive?

An advance directive such as medical Power of Attorney gives you control over your health care decisions, and provides information to the health care team for you if you are unable to communicate. It is especially helpful if you are suddenly facing hospice or palliative care after an accident or serious illness. It guides the decisions of the health care team and provides comfort to your family, preventing them from guessing what it is that you would want.

When do I need to create an advance directive?

The best time to create an advance directive is before you are sick, when you have a clear understanding about your options and can communicate them to your family and doctor.

What happens if I do not have an advance directive?

If you cannot speak for yourself and have not assigned someone medical Power of Attorney, your health care providers will look to your family or close friends to help make decisions about your care. If they are unsure or cannot agree, a court-appointed guardian may be requested to make the decisions for you.

Which advance directive should I choose?

There are several types of advance directives available to you. In addition to the Five Wishes® Power of Attorney for Healthcare document, you can use:

  • Honoring Choices Wisconsin if you live in Wisconsin.
  • Making Choices Michigan if you live in Michigan.
  • Five Wishes if you live in Illinois.
  • A living will, which is also an advance directive but does not name a person to speak for you. It is a legal document that states your preference for life-support if you are terminally ill or are in a "persistent vegetative state."

Do I need both a living will and a Power of Healthcare Attorney?

No, you do not need both; however, if you have both, the Power of Attorney for Health Care will take precedence.

If I already have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, do I need to complete a new document as well?

No, it isn't necessary to create a new advance directive. You should only make a new advance directive if you wish to include more information. The old document can be changed or revoked at any time. You can make changes with a new living will form, writing and addendum, or by telling your healthcare provider.

What should I do with it once I have it?

Keep it in a safe place and let your family or others close to you know where they can find it if needed. If you travel, you may wish to take a copy with you. Give a copy to:

  • Your health care provider (you'll want to discuss the form and make sure he or she agrees to honor your wishes)
  • Your health care agent or advocate (named in your Power of Attorney for Health Care)
  • Your family or others close to you
  • Your lawyer if you have one
  • The clinic or hospital where you go for care (for your medical records)
  • Your state registry if you live in Michigan

If I need help filling out an advance directive form, who can I call?

We have many caregivers who have training to help you complete an advance directive. Call1-888-863-5502 for help.

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