Serving Clients Throughout Wisconsin & Illinois 

Your Guardian, Your Estate Plan and End-of-Life Decisions

In neighboring Minnesota, the state Supreme Court is considering whether the law in that state gives court-appointed guardians the authority to withhold medical care for their wards, and allow them to die. Although the outcome of this case would only impact the law in Minnesota, and have no impact on guardians and ward in Wisconsin, the court case and its underlying facts have lessons from which Wisconsinites can benefit.
Jeffers Tschumy was a man with mental disabilities who lived in a group home. In 2008, a court appointed a guardian to make certain decisions, including medical ones, on behalf of the man. In 2012, Tschumy choked on a piece of food and, although caregivers saved his life, he suffered extensive brain damage.

Tschumy had no known relatives and had never completed a health care power of attorney or advance directive. The man’s guardian sought a court ruling stating that the guardian had the sole power to terminate Tschumy’s life support. The trial court ruled against the guardian. An appeals court later reversed that ruling. The Supreme Court, in weighing the opposing sides in the case, was left to consider whether the Minnesota legislature, in creating the statutes governing guardians’ conduct, intended to empower them with such broad control and whether the law should really give guardians the unchecked power to end their wards’ lives.


Here in Wisconsin, the law governing guardians’ authority is already limited. Two major Supreme Court rulings, In Matter of Guardianship of L.W. and In the Matter of the Guardianship and Protective Placement of Edna M.F., have set up certain boundaries. Based on these decisions, guardians may order the cessation of a ward’s life support, but only if the ward is in a “persistent vegetative state.” In L.W., the court permitted the guardian to order the end of life support. The Supreme Court approved this outcome because doctors for L.W., a man with schizophrenia who suffered severe harm resulting from a cardiac arrest, declared him in a persistent vegetative state. The Supreme Court later rejected a similar request from the guardian of Edna M.F., largely because her doctors determined that the ward, although suffering from extremely advanced Alzheimer’s dementia, was not in a persistent vegetative state.

Tschumy’s case shows just how vital proper estate planning is, especially if you have strong end-of-life care preferences. Through a properly drafted and executed health care power of attorney and living will, you can maintain control over what happens to you should you become gravely ill. Without this planning, not even a court-appointed guardian can help you if you have preference not to receive life-extending care but are not in a persistent vegetative state.

To make sure your end-of-life wishes are recorded in a way that will allow your medical providers to honor them, consult the Madison estate planning attorneys of Estate Law Partners, LLC. They can give you with the advice and the legal documents you need to ensure that you maintain control, even after you cannot speak for yourself.

Reach us through our website to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation.

Categories

Quality Counsel

Experience You Can Count On

What Sets Us Apart?

Our Philosophy
  • Cutting Edge
  • Authentic
  • Respect
  • Empathy

The Stories That Matter

Read Our 5 Star Reviews
    She was very responsive and always made sure to answer any questions we had.

    “Our experience with Danielle was very professional and efficient even with having to do everything through zoom due to Covid. She was very responsive and always made sure to answer any questions we ha ...”

    - Shannon
    [Matt] was very engaging and rephrased any questions we didn't udnerstand.

    “Matt was able to answer my questions without all the legal mumbo jumbo. He was very engaging and rephrased any questions we didn't udnerstand. Due to COVID pandemic, we were limited to a phone ...”

    - Steven
    [Matt] was very helpful...

    “He was very helpful in answering our questions and providing guidance that we understood.”

    - Troy
    He took the time to understand our goals and our family situation. He was friendly, thorough, and very knowledgeable.

    “What a great attorney! He explained everything to us in plain English, with no legal jargon. He took the time to understand our goals and our family situation. He was friendly, thorough, and very ...”

    - Mark
    He was wonderful...they asked all the right questions, were patient with our back and forth, and everything was wrapped up successfully.

    “My husband and I needed a will and turned to this firm for their help after the firm had invited us to a "what is estate planning all" about dinner/meeting. Having a will was something we knew we ...”

    - Kris
/

Take the Next Step

Schedule Your Consultation Today
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter your address.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter your zip code.
    This isn't a valid zip cide.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.