In our journey through life, we often find ourselves facing challenging decisions, especially when it comes to our healthcare. What if there was a way to ensure that our wishes are honored and our values are respected? Advance planning and advance directives offer individuals the power to align their healthcare choices with their deeply held beliefs, granting peace of mind to themselves and their loved ones.

The significance of having conversations about advance planning cannot be overstated. By openly discussing our wishes with our loved ones, we foster understanding and alleviate uncertainty during difficult times. These conversations keep everyone involved on the same page, reducing potential conflicts and confusion when decision-making is needed.

Choosing a person to make healthcare decisions is a vital step in the advance planning process. This trusted individual becomes our voice when we are unable to make healthcare decisions for ourselves. Engaging in candid conversations about expectations and clarifying the willingness of loved ones to assume this responsibility ensures that our wishes are faithfully carried out.

Expressing our medical treatment preferences is essential. We have the right to outline our choices regarding life-sustaining treatments, resuscitation, and the inclusion of palliative care options. By clearly communicating these preferences, we empower ourselves to receive the care that aligns with our values and desires.

Enhancing our quality of life is a fundamental consideration in advance planning. It’s important to articulate our desires for pain management, hospice care, and personal comforts so that our well-being is prioritized. Each of us deserves to have our wishes respected in matters that affect our daily experiences.

Advance planning allows for personalizing treatment and decision-making. By sharing our preferences for personal interactions, spiritual practices, and the preservation of our dignity throughout the caregiving process, we create an environment that honors our individuality and our life.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) provides online forms for advance directives, making it convenient for individuals to complete these documents without the need for legal assistance. That’s right, you can complete these forms independently; however, if you have specific concerns or unique circumstances, it may be wise to seek advice from an attorney. Available forms include:

  1. Declaration to Physicians (Wisconsin Living Will)—Express your preferences regarding medical treatment in specific situations.
  2. Power of Attorney for Healthcare—Designate a trusted individual to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.
  3. Power of Attorney for Finance and Property—Appoint someone to manage your financial and property matters in the event you are unable to do so.
  4. Authorization for Final Disposition—Outline your wishes regarding your final arrangements, such as burial or cremation.

Advance planning and advance directives empower us to make healthcare choices that align with our values and honor our wishes. By engaging in conversations about advance planning, we can make informed decisions that reflect our unique desires.

Kim Eschenbauch is an organizational impact coach at Lakeland Care, Inc.

Lakeland Care Inc. plays a crucial role in advancing awareness and supporting individuals in making informed decisions about their lives by offering education and resources. These offerings ensure that individuals and their families are equipped to make choices that reflect their unique values. To learn more about advance planning and advance directives, explore the Member Education section at