What is an advance directive? What advance directives should I have?

Estate planning worksheet for writing a willThe term “estate planning” conjures up images of wills and inheritances. Often some of the most important estate planning documents, advance directives, is overlooked—and all too often that oversight can have negative consequences when you need them the most.

What is an advance directive?

When an incident happens that incapacitates you—an accident, illness, mental affliction, etc.—-your family is not automatically authorized to make legal decisions in Wisconsin.  Advance directives are forms that give legal authorization and instructions on your financial and health care decisions.

Why should I include advance directives as part of my estate planning?

Wisconsin is not a “next of kin” or “family consent” state.  If an emergency happens and you cannot express your wishes for your assets or care, advance directives do that legally for you.  For that reason, advance directives are a very important component of any estate plan; they are also helpful to a person’s family because guardianship proceedings can be more lengthy, costly, stressful and public then advance directives.  Because of these documents are legally binding, it makes sense to consult an attorney as part of your efforts to complete a legally-binding estate plan.

What advance directives do I need?

Power of Attorney for Finance and Property

This document is one of four directives authorized by statute in Wisconsin. The Power of Attorney for Finance and Property designates another person to make legal and financial decisions when you can’t.  As your document with your expressed wishes, you can limit those powers or grant a broad breadth to the “agent” (that person) you choose.  Some examples of matters your agent can deal with on your behalf include finances, insurance policies, government benefits, taxes, bank and retirement accounts.

Power of Attorney for Health Care & Declaration to Physicians

These directives both deal with health care decisions when you can’t; the Declaration to Physicians is much more limited in scope.  The Declaration to Physicians document states any preferences you may have regarding treatment or any life-saving measures you would like taken (or not taken) in the event of a medical emergency.  Examples of situations where a Declaration to Physician document would be used is if you are in a permanent vegetative state, unconscious, or in a coma.  In your Power of Attorney for Health Care, you designate an agent (this can be a different party than the agent in your Power of Attorney for Finance and Property) to make decisions about your health care when you are incapacitated.

Authorization for Final Disposition

This document designates a person to make funeral arrangements when you die.  This advance directive is also the appropriate document where you can explain your preferences for your disposition and funeral service.  Put simply, this is your chance to detail what you want (and don’t want) after you pass on, and who you trust to carry out those wishes.

Advance directives are relatively inexpensive to create, especially when compared to the alternative proceedings that need to take place if those documents are not on record. Contact a local experienced attorney to get your estate planning started and finished just in case you ever need it.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.

4 Mistakes You Should Avoid After an OWI/DUI

glass of beer drank right before being picked up for an OWIOperating a vehicle while intoxicated. Driving under the influence.  Just hearing these terms can make you break out in a sweat, and for good reason.  The penalties for an OWI or DUI can be serious and long-term.  Unfortunately, the consequences can become much more serious if you make these errors after your OWI/DUI arrest.

You refuse a breath or blood test.

Your driver’s license comes with your “implied consent” to take a breath or blood test.  Failure to agree to a breath, blood, or any other test can result in penalties worth than your OWI/DUI.  These kind of cases are also often harder to contest than the OWI/DUI.

You haven’t requested an administrative hearing.

If your breath or blood test shows a .08 BAC or higher, you have 10 days to request a hearing.  An administrative hearing is your chance to forgo a pre-conviction suspension.  It can also impact the future of your case.  If you have any concerns about the hearing or the future of your case, contact a local attorney for additional information and advice (here are tips for your initial meeting here).

You’re not worried about your job.

Truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi cab drivers, or anyone with driving responsibilities on the job, beware: an OWI/DUI conviction can have serious implications on the ability to do your work and the possible loss of your occupational license.  It could even result in the loss of your job.  Even if it’s just a first OWI/DUI conviction, the first offense can stay on your record for the duration.

You haven’t contacted an attorney.

If you are accused of operating a vehicle with a BAC above .08, you can plead guilty and accept the penalties (don’t hesitate to ask if you don’t know) or you can consult a lawyer to find out if plea bargaining or sentence bargaining is a possibility. Every situation is different; it’s your decision whether to consult a lawyer to work on your behalf.  There are certain situations, however, where it’s clear that contacting a lawyer is in your best interest:

  • You have previous OWI’s/DUI’s. The penalties get more severe with consecutive offenses.  A second offense or an offense that involves parties under 18 may come with the possibility of jail time or an investment in expensive equipment (i.e. ignition interlock, etc.).
  • Your blood alcohol content was .15 or higher. With a higher BAC comes stricter penalties, even if this is your first OWI/DUI arrest.
  • There was an injury or death connected to your OWI/DUI. Depending on your driving history, seriousness of the injuries, and facts of the accident, you could face mandatory jail time and up to $10,000 in fines (as well as other costs stemming from the offense).

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this website without first seeking the advice of an attorney.