Supported Decision-Making is now the Law in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services Supported Decision-Making Agreement Form

*New Supported Decision-Making Tool – A letter for my doctors.

In 2018 Governor Walker signed Supported Decision-Making into Law in Wisconsin, giving individuals with disabilities, older adults and families an alternative to more restrictive guardianship. Wisconsin among the first states to enact this type of legislation.

  • Read the law here.
  • Find the Supported Decision-Making Agreement form here.
  • Read our press release about the  law here.

Overview of the law

The Arc Wisconsin along with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources are coordinating informational sessions and trainings on Wisconsin’s new Supported Decision-Making law.

See slides from our May 21, 2018 webinar training here.

Listen to a recording of our May 21, 2018 webinar training here.

A Short Video Overview of the New Law

Find a Supported-Decision-Making toolkit and an agreement form here.

Don’t know what Supported Decision-Making is? Watch this short video from The Arc.

What the Wisconsin Supported Decision-Making Law Does: 

  • Defines Supported Decision-Making as: “a process of supporting and accommodating an adult with a functional impairment to enable the adult to make life decisions, including decisions related to where the adult wants to live, the services, supports, and medical care the adult wants to receive, whom the adult wants to live with, and where the adult wants to work, without impeding the self-determination of the adult.”
  • Allows a person with a functional impairment (who could be a person with disabilities or older adult who needs help with decision-making) to enter into a formal agreement with a “supporter”.
  • Provides the outline of a form that will become a recognized Supported Decision-Making Agreement. Forms will be made available by the Department of Health Services.
  • Ensures that the person with a disability or older adult retains all decision-making rights and authority.
  • Allows the person with a disability or older adult to create Supported Decision-Making Agreements with multiple qualified individuals who they choose to help them to understand information, communicate their decisions or ask questions on their behalf. A supporter may only act in areas outlined in the Agreement.
  • Includes provisions that protect a person from inappropriate actions by the Supporter or misuse of the Supported Decision-Making Agreement.
  • Requires judges to consider whether Supported Decision-Making  has been attempted for an individual prior to granting guardianship.
  • Requires schools to talk to parents about supported decision-making as an alternative to guardianship.


Want to learn more about Supported Decision-Making?

With Supported Decision-Making, the Person chooses a Supporter(s)—trusted relatives, friends, and people with expertise in an area—to help them gather information, understand their options, and communicate their decisions to others. Supported Decision-Making can be used for decisions about housing, health care, financial affairs, employment or other areas. With Supported Decision-Making, the Person always makes the final decision.

Supported Decision-Making does not replace guardianship or power of attorney options, rather it provides an additional option for individuals and families seeking assistance with some or many life decisions. Learn more by reading this FAQ: Supported Decision-Making FAQ

Here are some other helpful resources on Supported Decision-Making:

– BPDD’s Supported Decision Making Toolkit
– The Arc’s Future Planning Build Your Plan® Tool – (includes guided questions for supported decision-making)

– American Bar Association resolution on supported decision-making
– Supported Decision-Making Basics for older adults (Justice in Aging)
AARP Guide for Supporters (specific to financial support – TX)
– The Arc webinar on supported decision-making in healthcare
– More information from The Arc on promoting autonomy
– Additional resources related to supported decision-making
Quality Trust Presentation on Supported Decision-Making