Advance Care Planning

Advance Care Planning


Advance care planning is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your loved ones.


It takes courage to plan ahead and think about a time in the future when you may not be able to make healthcare decisions for yourself or you are not able to communicate your preferences. By planning ahead, you can find comfort that your current and future care preferences are in writing and will guide your loved ones so they will not have the burden of guessing what you would want during if you could not speak for yourself about medical decisions.


Video Have the Conversation (Wisconsin Medical Society)


Classes and Registration Information


Thank you for your interest in our Advance Care Planning classes. To protect the health and safety of everyone in our community, we have decided to cancel ACP classes until further notice. Your health and the health of our community is our most important priority. Please call (608) 821-4144 if we can assist with your Advance Care Planning questions.


In 2020, classes will be held at the following times and locations:

For individuals, and family members, who cope with illness that impacts quality of life. All are welcome to attend the class which best fits your schedule.

Contact Information

Patient Resources

(608) 821-4144


University Hospital

Coordinated Care

(608) 263-8574


UW Health at the American Center

Coordinated Care

(608) 440-6263


What is Advance Care Planning?

Advance Care Planning


Advance care planning helps you reflect on and identify what is important to you. You, your loved ones and your care team will have a better understanding of your current and future care preferences. Advance care planning will help you prepare your legal document.


Advance Directive


An advance directive is a legal document that:

  1. Names your healthcare agent (a person whom you trust, respect and can be your advocate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself)
  2. Identifies your healthcare preferences and special requests

Why Are Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives Important?

Advance care planning is an important part of your healthcare planning. By having your healthcare preferences in writing, your loved ones will understand what you want and will have the peace of mind that they are honoring your wishes.


Can Someone Help Me With Advance Care Planning?

Discussing personal preferences and acknowledging different perspectives can be an emotional experience for you and your loved ones. Our Advance Care Planning Facilitators and staff can provide thoughtful guidance to help you identify and express your healthcare wishes and any end-of-life requests.


We can help you complete advance care planning documents:

  • UW Health Patient Resources
    (608) 821-4144

  • University Hospital:
    Coordinated Care
    (608) 263-8574

  • UW Health at the American Center:
    Coordinated Care
    (608) 440-6263

Additional Information and Forms

Should I Work With Someone to Complete the Advance Care Planning and Advance Directive Forms?

We encourage you to work with our advance care planning facilitators, social workers, chaplains or attend a class to make sure the forms are completed correctly and become part of your formal medical record.


When Should I Complete Advance Care Planning?

Sudden illnesses or accidents can happen at any age. To make sure your wishes are known before you are faced with a medical crisis, any individual over age 18 can complete advance care planning.


How Often Should I Update My Advance Directive?

Your healthcare wishes and preferences may change with life events or experiences. It is important to reflect on what’s important to you and to make updates as your life changes. We can help you complete a new form if you want to make changes.  


Is There a Cost for Advance Care Planning Services?

There is no cost to complete an advance care planning appointment or advance directive through UW Health


What If I Don't Have an Advance Directive?

  • When there is no advance directive, doctors may turn to adult family members to make decisions in the short term. Being a family member does not automatically make someone a healthcare agent. It is legally recommended you completed an Advance Directive to name healthcare agents who act as your voice if you are unable to make your own decisions.

  • Sometimes family members don't agree about what should happen When this happens, a guardian may need to be appointed by a judge. This takes both time and money. 

Who Should Have Copies of My Advance Care Planning and Advance Directive Forms?

  • You should keep the original in a safe place that is accessible by others.

  • You should give copies to your healthcare agent(s) – the person(s) you named to make healthcare decisions for you – to your primary care physician, and to the hospitals and clinics at which you receive care.

  • You can mail a copy directly to:

    UW Health
    Health Information Management
    Attn: Advance Directive Coordinator
    8501 Excelsior Drive
    Madison, WI 53717