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  • Living Wills in Wisconsin

       March 28, 2005

    With the Terri Schiavo case on everyone's minds, now is an opportune time to think about making your own Living Will and deciding who will have your Power of Attorney for Health Care.

    The State of Wisconsin has these documents available online, and I would imagine most other states do as well. You don't need an attorney to use them. You just need to fill them out and have two witnesses. You should keep a copy and also give one to your physician.

    With a Living Will, you are essentially declaring what kind of life-sustaining measures you want if you are in various conditions. The Power of Attorney for Health Care makes it possible for adults to authorize other individuals to make health care decisons on their behalf if they are incapacitated.

    My sister (known here as KV Big Sis) has done many Living Wills for clients, and her office provides an ADDENDUM TO THE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE form that gets into more specific detail about what you may want done in specific situations. Some of the types of statements you can agree or disagree to are things like this:

    • Do not use feeding tubes, including stomach tubes, nasogastric tubes, which are placed down the nose, or intravenous feedings, except to increase my comfort or reduce my pain.
    • Err on the side of over-medication rather than under-medication for pain, even if taking such may result in my death. For me, the goal of pain management is total relief of pain regardless of the risks.
    • Remember that I want to be an organ and tissue donor. If the requirements for organ donation conflict with my wishes above, I direct that such actions be taken so as to preserve organ function and permit organ donation to occur.
    • Be an active advocate as my Power of Attorney for Health Care. Do not simply give in to decisions that physicians make. Ask questions and understand proposals, challenge assumptions and be prepared to say no to care which I would not want and to demand care that I would want

    Their form also goes on to give you the opportunity to describe levels of disability you're willing to accept and declare any other thoughts you may have. Like I said above, you don't need an attorney to do this, but I'd imagine that most attorneys would have forms like this that will help you better communicate your wishes to both your physician and the family member(s) that may have to make decisions for you.

    Obviously, this isn't fun stuff to deal with, but better to think and talk about it now than go through what the Schiavos and Schindlers are dealing with.

    Posted by at March 28, 2005 10:09 AM

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    #  March 28th, 2005 11:08 AM      Laura
    Thanks Kris and KV Big Sis for the addendum info. That is great information to have. Something else I'm doing and would suggest to others - talk to your parents and siblings about their wishes. When I spoke to my mother about this, she has only the vaguest idea about what she would want. And when I spoke to my brother, we found that we decidedly disagree on how to care for our mom when she can't speak for herself anymore. I'm really grateful this is being dealt with now rather than my brother and I duking it out later.

    This may be useful - a link to Legal Docs free section on living wills. Users can fill out a form online, then a living will is generated that can be printed, signed and notarized. Or copy and paste into a document to further customize it.  



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