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Canada estate planning: The workings of advance care directives

No one likes to think about getting sick but making plans for unforeseen events could make things much less stressful for loved ones. Estate planning could include an advance care directive -- a document that stipulates a person's wishes regarding medical care should the individual be incapacitated and thus unable to make those decisions. Those in Canada who have a serious illness might wish to discuss their wishes with their health care teams as well as family members, but having a document in place is a wise move.

An advance care plan or directive has also been called a living will. It is a legal document that allows individuals to appoint someone to make a decision on their behalf if they're too ill or unable to speak for themselves. Known as a substitute decision maker or health care proxy -- it is to this person healthcare personnel will turn to ask questions about care issues for the person that appointed them.

Even though a person's wishes have been written in a document, the writer should discuss those issues with his or her substitute decision-maker. A copy of the advance care plan or directive should be given to health care professionals and to the substitute decision-maker named in it. An advance care directive is a living document which can be changed if the writer so chooses.

A lawyer in Canada would be able to help someone fashion an advance care plan. The wording should be legally sound -- something an estate planning lawyer would be able to ensure. Such documents can be confusing and overwhelming and a compassionate lawyer can help.

 

Source: vrtualhospice.ca, "Advance care planning and decision making across Canada", Accessed on Dec. 18, 2017

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