Having a will is a great first step in creating an estate plan. If you have drafted a will, you likely had your loved ones in mind. Your motivation may have included ensuring your family would fairly distribute your assets without the confusion of an intestate probate. However, do you realise there are other aspects of your estate plan that can go even further in bringing peace of mind and security to your loved ones while protecting your wishes and best interests?
If your estate plan does not contain a health care directive and power of attorney designation, you may leave your family to make excruciating decisions about your life and well-being at a time when they are most vulnerable. These documents relay critical information about your wishes for treatment and end-of-life decisions that you may not be able to express for yourself. Without them, it may be a requirement that your loved ones seek permission from British Columbia courts to act on your behalf.
8 ways your proxy can speak for you
Did you know that nearly 230,000 Canadians suffer traumatic injuries on the job in an average year? A shocking number of these accident victims do not have estate plans or health care directives in place, often because they believe they are too young. Without a proxy to advocate for you, doctors will not know your particular wishes for the kind of care you desire and those treatments you do not want. Your health care directive can assist your power of attorney with decisions such as:
- Discussing your diagnosis with your physicians
- Weighing options for your treatment based on your expressed wishes
- Giving consent for doctors to perform medical procedures
- Advocating for your wishes even when they differ from those of others
- Making decisions about if and when to administer specific measures, such as feeding tubes, IV fluids, a ventilator or pain medication
- Executing instructions from your directive for if and when to remove life support
- Approving or rejecting the donation of your organs based on your wishes
- Following through with funeral arrangements according to your wishes
As you can see, your designated proxy has a great deal of power, so it is important that you choose him or her carefully. Your proxy should be someone who can remain calm when emotions are high and who is not afraid to honour the instructions you leave in your directives. With such serious matters on the line, you will not want to trust the drafting of your health care directive or power of attorney designation to a do-it-yourself template without the advice of a legal professional.