Planning for a difficult decision: Saturday is National Healthcare Decisions Day

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — National Healthcare Decisions day is on Saturday, April 16th. While some states have next of kin laws, Wisconsin does not allow family members to make decisions regarding your health if you’re unable to speak for yourself. Decision day aims to prepare families for difficult decisions.

Mike Wiltse and his wife Luciana meant to have an advanced healthcare plan in place.

“They were going to get married in a month and I said well you better get your healthcare directives in place,” retired attorney Ben Adams, said.

Instead, life got in the way and the Wiltses put off their plans. And then in August, Mike got COVID-19.

“I woke up one Monday morning and I basically told Luciana I couldn’t breathe,” he said.

He was moved to a COVID ward and his symptoms continued to decline.

“And at one point, they thought I was going to die and they told my wife to prepare for my death,” Wiltse said.

Doctors told Wiltse he may have to be put on a ventilator, but his wife would not be able to make that decision for him if he was unconscious.

“Nobody can make a legal decision for you,” Adams said.

Advanced care planning gives a loved on the power of attorney for healthcare, allowing them to make decisions for your health if you are unable to do so.

“Advanced care planning is only when you are unable to express your wishes around a particular situation,” Toby Campbell, a doctor at UW Health, said.

In the state of Wisconsin, family members are unable to make those decisions unless they were assigned as the power of attorney.

“In some circumstances, they can’t treat you,” Adams said.

Health experts say families who have had a conversation about advanced planning are able to prepare for tragedy.

“They are in a much better position to speak with confidence and authority and know that they are making the right decision,” Campbell said.

For Wiltse, he says his experience has helped him encourage others to have the difficult conversation.

“I just wonder how many people were not prepared,” he said.

Because having that conversation can be the biggest act of love.

“Completing an advanced care plan is really just showing your care and concern for your loved ones,” Campbell said.

UW Health says the process is simple and the forms for assigning a power of attorney for healthcare can be found on 

You can also get those forms from your local healthcare provider. They can help get the process started.