Advance Serious Illness Planning

By failing to plan, you are planning to fail!

What is Advance Serious Illness Planning? (ASIP)

Advance Serious Illness Planning is putting your values, goals and preferences into a document, so when you are ill and can no longer make decisions, your doctors, substitute decision-maker and your family can refer to them.

Serious illness, like COVID-19 pneumonia, a major car accident, or a severe stroke, can happen at any time. With all serious illnesses, there is a probability you can die, but there is also a probability you can recover. It is likely you will be so sick that you are unable to communicate, but there will be important medical decisions that need to be made about the care you receive. The doctors will look to your family members for help in making these decisions that have life and death consequences. Who would speak for you? And, do they know what your values and preferences are? If they don’t know your values and preferences, they will suffer tremendous stress and anxiety and you may not get the medical care that is right for you. The sad reality is that in hospitals today, lots of medical errors happen where people are getting the wrong medical care, which adds to suffering and distress.

By planning your medical care in advance and sharing information with your family members, you can significantly reduce their stress and anxiety when they are called upon to make decisions for you. And, you are more likely to get the medical care that is right for you!

A Page of the Advance Serious Illness Planning workbook

A page out of our
ASIP Workbook

Plan Well Guide’s FREE ASIP Workbook

We have created an online course that will walk you through creating your Advance Serious Illness Plan. You will

  1. Be educated about the different types of medical care and treatments
  2. Be able to express your values and goals
  3. Get done-for-you documents to allow for easy sharing and communication


Our workbook is designed to help you make informed decisions about your medical care. We don’t want to overload you with information, therefore the workbook will always save your progress and you can pick up where you left off as many times as needed.

A page out of our
ASIP Workbook:

A Page of the Advance Serious Illness Planning workbook

Plan Well Guide’s FREE ASIP Workbook

We have created an online course that will walk you through creating your Advance Serious Illness Plan. You will

  1. Be educated about the different types of medical care and treatments
  2. Be able to express your values and goals
  3. Get done-for-you documents to allow for easy sharing and communication


Our workbook is designed to help you make informed decisions about your medical care. We don’t want to overload you with information, therefore the workbook will always save your progress and you can pick up where you left off as many times as needed.

What We'll Cover

The workbook is divided into 6 sections. Here is an overview of each one:

  1. Serious Illness Decision Making
    • provides an overview of serious illness and why planning is important.
  2. Thinking about your values & preferences
    • guides you through a self-reflection process to understand your values.
  3. Different Types of Care
    • goes over the different types of medical care that you would choose between if you were seriously ill.
  4. Finalizing My Medical Preferences
    • reviews your values and preferences after having learned about medical care and allows you to make any necessary changes.
  5. Incapacitated State
    • helps you plan for your everyday life and personal care (non-medical) if you survive your serious illness and end up in a state where you cannot think for yourself.
  6. Substitute Decision Making
    • goes over the role of a substitute decision-maker (SDM) and how to choose someone to be your SDM.

Why Make An Advance Serious Illness Plan?

Failing to plan could lead to undesirable outcomes such as:

  • dying an undignified, uncomfortable death as a result of unwanted life-saving measures
  • being allowed to die when you would have rather lived
  • family disagreement and conflict
  • stress on your family members and loved ones
  • anxiety and guilt for the decision makers, wondering if they made the right call
This Matters

People who engage in advance serious illness planning:

  • Reported a greater sense of control over their health care,
  • Reported improved communication between them, their family members and their clinicians, and
  • Reported increased satisfaction with their medical care they receive.
  • Were much more likely to get medical care that was consistent with their values and preferences.

Also, advance medical care planning was shown to reduce the burden and conflict among loved ones and reduced stress, anxiety and depression in surviving family membersi.

[i] McMahan, Ryan D., et al. Deconstructing the Complexities of Advance Care Planning Outcomes: What Do We Know and Where Do We Go? A Scoping Review. 7 Sept. 2020, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jgs.16801.

How confident is your substitute decision-maker in making life and death decisions for you?

It’s impossible to be 100% certain about what the right choice is in a life and death situation.

However, it’s a lot easier when your substitute decision-maker knows what you value, what your goals are, and what criteria you have chosen to base your decisions on.

Ease the burden of decision-making for your loved ones by putting your values on paper and create your Advance Serious Illness Plan today.

Serious Illness Planning is not End of Life Planning.

At the point when you experience a serious illness, doctors will need to know whether to apply life-sustaining treatments, and they may not know for sure if you are dying. End of life plans don’t apply.

We want to help you understand how communicating your values and preferences are an important part of decision-making about your medical care during a serious illness — whether you live or die.

Think your legal documents got you covered? Think again.

Did you know that the legal documents are completely inadequate for decision making in the event of a serious illness where there is a probability you may die but there is also a probability you may recover?

Unfortunately, too many people have to rely on unhelpful documents to aid them in their decision-making during a difficult time because their loved one has failed to make an Advance Serious Illness Plan.

Add one more planning document to your file that will be helpful to your decision-makers in a medical crisis (and it’s free).

No patient ever knows going into the ICU that their family will be faced with such a difficult decision to make on their behalf. And asking them to make a decision on whether to live or die prior to being put on life support in such a short time is unimaginable.

~ Substitute Decision Maker
(without Advance Serious Illness Plan)

How to Make Hard Conversations Easier

Oftentimes, family members can have a very difficult time helping out with decision-making during a stressful time like an illness or injury if they haven’t discussed it with you before. We know that these topics can be difficult to discuss — but they are important.

We know it can be difficult to have these serious illness planning conversations, especially with older family members. Please invite your family members to watch the Conversations video to help you get started.

How to Make Hard Conversations Easier

Oftentimes, family members can have a very difficult time helping out with decision-making during a stressful time like an illness or injury if they haven’t discussed it with you before. We know that these topics can be difficult to discuss — but they are important.

We know it can be difficult to have these serious illness planning conversations, especially with older family members. Please invite your family members to watch the Conversations video to help you get started.

Common Misconceptions About Advance Serious Illness Planning

"I'm not sick enough. I'm healthy right now."

You don’t have to be sick to plan for a future serious illness. Serious illness or another medical crisis can start at any time. The best time to do serious illness planning is when you’re well, just like fixing a leaking roof. The best time to fix it is when it’s not raining.

"I don't want to think about death and dying."

We understand your angst to confront your own mortality. But we are not doing end of life planning. This is planning for serious illness, for future periods of incapacitation due to illness or injury. Even though this is difficult to think about, it will save you and your family stress in the future. By failing to plan, you increase the risk of receiving the wrong care, giving rise to family conflict, and putting feelings of anxiety and guilt on your family members.

"Advance Serious Illness Planning is not important."

Yes it is. As much as we trust our family and the healthcare system to take care of us, there is a high rate of medical error (66%). Only 1 out of 3 patients gets the medical treatment that is right for them. Planning for serious illness in advance increases the likelihood that you will receive the care that you want and need for a high quality of life.

"If it is important, why doesn't the doctor bring it up?"

Doctors believe it is important and are equally frustrated with the situation. They say their biggest barrier to talking to their patients is their belief that the patient and/or family don’t want to talk about this or aren’t prepared for the discussion. You can make it easier on your doctor by going through the planning process and presenting them with a copy of your ‘Dear Doctor’ letter. They will love it!

"My family knows me. They will do right by me."

Your family may know you well. But they don’t know you well enough to know exactly what to do when called upon to make life and death decisions on your behalf. Consequently, they will experience significant stress and anxiety if you don’t know your values and preferences. Give them a copy of your plan, and they will thank you for it.

“I trust my doctor and the health care system. They will do right by me.”

Current audits of decision-making in hospitals show a medical error rate of 66%. That’s a 1/3 chance of getting it right if you rely on the system to ‘guess’ what’s right for you.

"I've already done this with my lawyer and signed the papers."

How sensible is it that you do your health planning with a lawyer? We are trying to change legal practice and get them out of the health planning business. Their health planning practices are not helpful to you or your future doctors.