Advance Care Planning and Advanced Directives

We often take for granted that when medical decisions need to be made, we will be able to make decisions for ourselves. Yet, many of us will be asked to make medical decisions for our loved ones. Often family members say,
“I wish we would have talked about this, so I would have known what [Mom] wanted.”

Talking about your healthcare wishes may not be easy, but it will help your family understand what is important to you. It gives you a chance to share your healthcare wishes with your family and your providers.

Having conversations and completing an advance directive document is often called Advance Care Planning. Advance Care Planning also helps you and your family better understand your healthcare choices and prepare for the decisions you may face as you live with illness.

Ministry Health Care and Columbia St. Mary’s offer this information to help you discuss your choices and write an Advance Directive. Take some time to review Practical Guide to Advance Care Planning and Advance Directives and the information on this webpage.


What are the goals of Advance Care Planning?

-Guide your healthcare in a way that fits with your beliefs, values and goals.

-Make sure your wishes are followed even if you are not able to speak for yourself.

-Support relationships between you, your family and your healthcare providers.

-Lift the stress of difficult decision making on family or friends.


What is an Advance Directive document? 

An Advance Directive is a written instruction that state your choices about future healthcare decisions.  These documents guide your physicians and loved ones in the event you cannot make healthcare decisions for yourself.  An Advance Directive makes sure that your beliefs and wishes are known. 


What are the types of Advance Directives documents? 

Power of Attorney for Healthcare is a document that allows you to pick one or more persons to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. This person is known as your healthcare agent. The document offers guidance to your healthcare agent(s) and healthcare providers(s) about your treatment preference so they can best honor your wishes.


Power of Attorney for Healthcare (English)

Power of Attorney for Healthcare (Spanish)

Power of Attorney for Healthcare (Hmong)

Power of Attorney for Healthcare (Russian)


We also recognize that it may be difficult to know what to discuss with your healthcare agent or whom to choose as a healthcare agent. Ministry offers a set of questionnaires that may be helpful for you. We hope that when you compare your answers to those of your agent, you will have a better idea of topics to discuss to aid in your decision-making.


Questionnaire – For Patient (English)

Questionnaire – For Patient (Spanish)

Questionnaire – For Patient (Russian)


And your healthcare agent:

Questionnaire - Healthcare Agent (English)

Questionnaire - Healthcare Agent (Spanish)

Questionnaire - Healthcare Agent (Russian)


Living Will/Declaration to Physicians is document that gives instructions to healthcare providers about the type of life sustaining care you would want only in the event of a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state.

If the Power of Attorney for Healthcare document is not the preferred document for you, use the Wisconsin State Living Will (Declaration to Physicians). Please note: this form does not allow you to legally designate a person to make healthcare decisions for you if you are not able.

Community Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Order and Bracelet is an order and legal document issued by a physician that communicates to emergency medical technicians (EMTs), first responders or emergency department staff that a qualified patient has decided he/she does not wish to be resuscitated. A qualified patient is an adult who has a terminal condition or would suffer pain or harm from resuscitation or for whom resuscitation would be unsuccessful. The form must be signed by the patient (or guardian or POAHC agent) and the physician AND a bracelet with must be worn by the patient to signify to emergency personnel they do not want resuscitation.


For more information, obtain a form by clicking on the link below:
Wisconsin Do Not Resuscitate Information
Wisconsin Do Not Resuscitate Order form (pdf)


Additional Resources 

Demographic Change Form

If you or your agents move or change phone numbers, please use the Demographic Change Form to update the information. Once completed please give a copy to your providers and or your local hospital.

Wisconsin Catholic Conference Addendum to POAHC Form

In March of 2014, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference offered an addendum for a patient’s advance directive from the Catholic perspective. It is important to note that this addendum is merely that, an addendum. It is not an advance directive itself. This addendum is designed for use with a Power for Attorney Healthcare document like the one found on this web page. We share in the Bishops’ reminder that vital conversations need to occur between loved ones and that no tool can replace that.


Catholic Health Association Advance Directives Booklet: A Guide to Help You Express your Healthcare Wishes

Now and at the Hour of Our Death – Wisconsin Catholic Conference

UW Madison Body and Tissue Donation information

Medical College of Wisconsin Body Donation information

Heart Rhythm Society Position on Deactivation of Implantable Cardiac Devices

Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services 

If you or a loved one is in need of palliative support, please talk with your clinician about our Palliative Care services.

Inpatient palliative care is available at these locations:


CaringBridge is a nonprofit offering many ways for people to care for each other during any type of health event.

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