As our population ages, there will be an increasing number of patients with life-limiting disease who may be referred for major elective surgery and more pressingly may present acutely, requiring major emergency surgical intervention. Owing to the high risk of perioperative and postoperative complications associated this group of patients, it is paramount that specific advance care planning that encompasses a patient's goals of care and resuscitative status be clarified before undergoing surgery in this acute period. In doing so, this will lead to a better quality of life for patients with a limited trajectory and allow for more informed decisions to be made about their health care. Furthermore, it will help to prevent futile and inappropriate treatments that do not respect a patient's wishes and their clinical status. In this case discussion, we explore the key themes about the challenge of perioperative advance care planning for patients with life-limiting disease and provide a framework to help guide conversation in this crucial period.