Power of Attorney Ensures Your Wishes are Honored

Illness, emergencies and end-of-life care are all topics that can be difficult to discuss among family members. Yet selecting a power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney can ensure a loved one's wishes for their health and personal assets will be honored, even when they are unable to verbally express them. It is a challenging, yet necessary conversation, which ultimately can alleviate stress in the midst of a crisis. 

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney document allows you to appoint another person to make decisions about your finances and assets when you are no longer able to do so. Typically, a trusted family member, domestic partner or other close friend is selected for this vital role. The responsibility should not be taken lightly. The appointed person is not able to override decisions made by the individual; instead the individual (or principal) makes his or her own decisions as long as he or she has the legal capacity.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney is a medical directive that sets forth your wishes for healthcare if you are unable to speak for yourself. This allows you to select a trusted person, often known as a health care surrogate or proxy, to oversee your care and make decisions for you. A healthcare power of attorney empowers the proxy to select your doctors and healthcare providers, the treatments to be provided and the facilities where you’ll be cared for. It also positions your proxy to make end-of-life decisions for you, such as whether to provide ongoing care through a feeding tube when a person is unable to eat or giving a “do not resuscitate” order, or DNR.

Such heavy topics can be difficult to consider, yet completing these documents helps ensure the wishes that matter most to the individual are seen through successfully.

Getting Started

Powers of attorney combined with a living will and authorization for final disposition make up what are known as an individual's advance directives. Forms for these advance directives, including Wisconsin power of attorney forms for healthcare and finance and property, are available for download, or by mail through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The forms include specific information about what needs to be done for the form to be legal and binding, so your wishes, or the wishes of your loved one, are fulfilled. For more information, visit their website at http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms/advdirectives/adformspoa.htm