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Local family discusses importance of health care power of attorney during Wisconsin health care decision week

Posted at 11:06 AM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 12:06:06-04

MILWAUKEE — This week is health care decisions week in Wisconsin. A time Gov. Tony Evers urges everyone to start talking about long-term health care planning. TMJ4 talked to one local family who takes long-term planning seriously and said one thing they believe everyone should know is assigning family members health care powers of attorney.

For the last two decades, Jill and Mark Abatto have been able to make medical decisions for their three children. However, as each of their kids turned 18, legally, Jill and Mark no longer had access to their medical records and could not make health-related decisions.

"The stories you'd hear about people who were alone in the hospital without people around them to help them make decisions or not even fully conscious. It was those types of images while our children were separated from us away at college that really, like I said, drove the point home that we needed to put something more formal in place," Mark Abatto said.

For the Abatto's, that meant having their kids set up health care powers of attorney.

"Everyone should have power of attorney who's over the age of 18. Without that health care power of attorney in place, the hospital will not allow someone to make health care decisions on someone's behalf if they can't indicate that they want that person to make those decisions," Nicole M. Beitzinger said.

Beitzinger's an attorney with O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing.

She said establishing that health care power of attorney is important even if it's with your own child. She said she recommends discussing this when your kid turns 18.

For the Abatto's, setting this up with their kids gave them peace of mind.

"We wanted them to know that we wanted them to be safe because two of our children are out of state, so if anything had happened to them, it would take us a long time to even find information out about them," Jill Abatto said.

To learn more about how you can set up a healthcare power of attorney for your family, click here.

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