Garton & Harris

Planning for the inevitable

Everyone in British Columbia will eventually pass away, and planning for the inevitable is important in order to make certain one's wishes are followed in terms of important decisions, types of end-of-life treatment and passing of assets to beneficiaries. With careful planning, people can make certain they have a degree of control over the important decisions that may be needed in the event they become incapacitated as well as the manner in which their estates will be handled.

No one can know when an unexpected event may occur. With advances in medicine, there are many treatments now available that may extend life. If the person's wishes regarding the types of treatment they wish to have are unknown, families may be left to struggle with making such decisions. Cases such as the case of Terry Schiavo in the United States demonstrates that, without a legal document, families may spend years in litigation over end-of-life or life-prolonging care.

There are several documents people should consider drafting. Advanced medical directives are legal documents that are also commonly referred to as living wills. These documents clearly define the types of treatment the person is willing to receive and which treatments they wish to forgo. When a living will is in place, the person's family is spared from potentially fractious and highly emotional decisions. An enduring power of attorney is also important. This document allows a designated agent to make important financial decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person.

Although most people are familiar with wills, having a will as well as the important pre-death documents in place can be vital in helping family members know what decisions to make. By making certain all three are in place, families may be spared the pain of litigation in the event an unexpected accident or illness happens.

Source: Canadian Living, "What you need to know about writing a will", Cherie DeLory, January 06, 2015

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