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Power of attorney needs to be well thought out

When you think of advance care planning, you automatically think of what you want to happen when you can't speak for yourself. It is important to choose someone to give your power of attorney to so that your wishes can take effect. What are your values? This comes into play when you are thinking about final care.

An advance care plan is simply a written summary of instructions that you give to a representative who will carry out these desires on your behalf when you no longer can do this. Your medical wishes will be included in this plan so you need to be sure that all the elements are mentioned in enough detail to get your point across.

Having someone guide you through this process can make a huge difference in the outcome of this document.

There are steps to take in order to ensure that the document is enforceable. The first is to look over the British Columbia government's guide called "My Voice: My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment." This breaks down the process into bite size pieces.

The second step is to have a family conversation or two about your beliefs, values and wishes so that no one is taken by surprise. Without this step, your children could end up in a court battle.

Decide which health care treatments are right for you and list those you will not accept for yourself. Breathing machines and feeding tubes are two examples of what you might not want. Again, talking to a professional who has experience with this situation is invaluable.

Putting your advance care plan in a safe but accessible place is the final step.

Knowing what will happen after you can't voice your wishes is important. Getting the information in the right hands with a power of attorney can give you peace of mind.

Source: British Columbia, "Advance Care Planning," accessed April. 15, 2015

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