What is a Living Will and why you need one

Our legal team is often asked “what is a living will” and how can you get one. In actual fact, we don’t use the term “living wills” in BC. Instead, we refer to advanced care directives and decision making agreements to serve a similar purpose.

These documents allow the person of your choosing to make healthcare, financial, and estate decisions for you when you are not able to yourself. Without these directives, the law defaults to the Public Guardian and Trustee to make these decisions for you.

Your Advanced Care Plan

As part of your advanced care planning, it’s important to share your beliefs, values, and wishes regarding your health treatments with your family and any medical professionals you employ. These wishes should also be written down to create your Advanced Care Plan. This plan outlines what a physician can do on your behalf if you can’t make the decision yourself.

Your plan includes 3 parts:

  1. Representation Agreement: Contact information and instructions for your executor who you wish you make health care decisions on your behalf if you cannot.
  2. Advanced Care Directive: Care instructions for your health care provider, which they are legally obligated to follow.
  3. Enduring Power of Attorney: An enduring power of attorney is someone who can act on your behalf if you become mentally or physically unable to make financial or estate decisions. A Representation Agreement is needed to assign someone to take care of your matters for your personal care, health care, and often your financial or legal matters.

It’s important that these documents are filed in a safe, but accessible place so that people who need it can access it in an emergency. It can be changed as many times as you need as long as you are of sound mind to do so.

If you’ve ever asked “what is a living will” and you live in BC, remember that we actually refer to it as advanced care directives. While you don’t need a lawyer to complete one, they can help to make sure you’ve considered all your options and covered all your bases.

If you have questions about making arrangements for times when you are physically or mentally unable to do so yourself, talk to the legal team at Dreyer and Davison who can help with all your will and estate law matters.





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