Who will speak for you if you can’t?

When you become ill, you have the right to say yes or no to treatment options. But what if you became unable to decide for yourself? Who would speak for you? And would they know what you want and don't want? Any adult who can make health care decisions for themselves, can and should complete a medical advance directive to make sure their wishes are known.

  • These forms are free

  • You do not need a lawyer to complete the forms

  • It is not necessary to complete both a Living Will and a POA-HC. If you only wish to complete one document, we strongly recommend you complete a POA-HC.

  • A POA-HC and a Living Will do not concern any decisions related to your finances

There are two types of medical advance directives that allow you to document your health care wishes:

  • Power of Attorney for Health Care (POA-HC): A legal document that allows you to choose a person (the “Agent”) to make health care decisions for you if you ever become unable to make those decisions for yourself. A POA-HC covers all health care decisions, not just those that are covered by a Living Will.

  • Living Will (Declaration to Health Care Professionals) : A legal document where you can specify health care wishes for life-prolonging treatments if you were in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state. This document does not designate a decision-maker.

Forms and resources

Start planning now

The best time to participate in advance care planning is prior to a medical crisis.

Below are free forms you can download to complete your own Power of Attorney for Health Care (POA-HC). This is a legal document that allows you to choose a person (the “Agent”) to make health care decisions for you if you ever become unable to make those decisions for yourself.

State of Wisconsin POA-HC

Short form allowing you to choose up to two health care agents.

Wisconsin Medical Society Advance Directive, including Power of Attorney for Health Care
(formerly known as Honoring Choices Wisconsin)

Expanded form allowing you to choose up to three health care agents and document additional health care wishes.

POA-HC forms in other languages

State of Wisconsin Living Will (Declaration to Health Care Professionals) (pdf)

Once your document is complete, please share a copy with UW Health by one of the following:

1. Upload to MyChart
2. Mail a copy to:
Health Information Management
8501 Excelsior Drive
Madison, WI 53717
3. Email to him-advdirective@uwhealth.org
4. Fax to (608) 203-4580
5. Give a copy to clinic/hospital staff

Workshop registration

Attend a free workshop to learn how to create your advance directive

This free, interactive one-hour workshop provides step-by-step guidance on how to complete the Wisconsin Medical Society Advance Directive including Power of Attorney for Health Care form.

The workshops are held online through a program called Webex.

Register for a workshop

Once you complete the registration form, you will receive an email with instructions about how to participate in the workshop.

Note: This workshop is focused on advance care planning for Wisconsin residents.

Frequently asked questions

Questions about advance care planning?

Health care agent questions

Your health care agent must be at least 18 years old. This person can be a family member, a friend or a trusted individual. They do not need to live near you if they are available by phone when needed. Your health care agent may not be your health care provider.

List your selected health care agents in consecutive order. Avoid listing two or more individuals (co-agents) on the same line.

The most important consideration is whether the person you are choosing to be your health care agent is willing to follow your wishes about your health care decisions, even if they might not agree with them. Will they be able to understand the choices surrounding your health condition? Will the person be able to clearly communicate with health care providers about your health care needs and wishes?

This is an important conversation to have with your health care agent(s). Consider discussing your:

  • Values and priorities: What does living well mean to you? What do you value most about your physical and mental health? What factors are most important to you (i.e., independence, living at home, pain management, time with loved ones, religious/spiritual beliefs, etc.)?

  • Medical concerns: Do you have any existing medical conditions that your health care agent(s) should be aware of? Have you or a loved one had any past experiences (good or bad) with serious illness or hospitalization and how might those experiences influence your health care choices? In what situations would you want or not want life-sustaining treatments (i.e., breathing machine, CPR, feeding tubes, dialysis, etc.)?

  • The Conversation Project (pdf) can help guide you through how to have this important discussion.

No, next of kin (including spouses) have no legal authority in Wisconsin. Creating a POA-HC and selecting your spouse as your health care agent is the only way to ensure your spouse can legally make health care decisions for you.

No, your health care agent(s) do not need to be present.

In Wisconsin, if your health condition changes and two providers determine you are no longer able to make your own health care decisions, the health care team will look to your designated health care agent. You will always be included to the extent you are able to communicate your wishes.

Responsibilities of a health care agent (pdf)

Making changes to your Power of Attorney for Health Care (POA-HC)

You can change your POA-HC at any time by completing a new one. The form with the most recent date is the valid one. Provide new copies of the POA-HC to your health care providers and notify your health care agent(s) that you have updated your form.

Perform at least one of the following:

  • Execute a new POA-HC (recommended option)

  • Sign and date a written statement noting the revocation

  • Verbally revoke the POA-HC in front of two witnesses

  • Destroy all copies of the POA-HC

Please remember to update any health care facilities who have a copy of your POA-HC on file.

If you selected your spouse as one of your health care agents and later get divorced, your POA-HC is no longer valid. If you would like your former spouse to remain as one of your health care agents, you will need to create a new POA-HC after the date of the divorce.

Other questions

If you do not complete a POA-HC and are later unable to make your own health care decisions, there might be health care decisions that need to be made which no one else is authorized to make for you. In the Wisconsin, a family member is not automatically authorized to make health care decisions for you unless you complete a POA-HC naming the family member as your agent. Without a POA-HC, it might be necessary for your family or others to ask a court to appoint a guardian of the person for you. This process can be costly, time-consuming and stressful.

Yes, most states will honor a properly executed POA-HC.

Keep your POA-HC in an accessible area where loved ones will know where to find it. Give a copy to your clinic/hospital.

Contact information

We are here to help

Wisconsin patients

Illinois patients

  • UW Health SwedishAmerican Clinic patients
    Spiritual Care
    (779) 696-4620

  • Hospitalized patients at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital
    (779) 696-4175