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What is an advance care plan?

When you think of estate planning, you need to ponder what your advance care plan will be. Talk to your family and friends about what your beliefs, values and wishes are so that they are aware of what you want to see happen if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

Knowing what to do for you is an important to them and they want to get it right so putting it down on paper with a legal professional who knows the laws of British Columbia can give you peace of mind.

When you put pen to paper and write down your wishes and instructions for future health care, this called an advance care plan. This plan is a written summary of what you want to happen when you can't make decisions for yourself.

Your plan can include a representation agreement that names someone close to you to advise the medical professionals as to what you want done if you are incapacitated.

You can also have an advance directive that has specific instructions to the medical team that they must follow to the letter or be in breach of the law.

It may include an enduring power of attorney that appoints someone to make decisions about your finances, any business you may have and any property that must be managed.

The steps to creating an advance care plan are as follows: Talk to your lawyer and make an appointment to discuss it.

Talking to your family is an important second step. They need to know what you have planned so they won't be surprised when your lawyer shows it to them.

Deciding what health treatments you will and won't accept is the third step.

Knowing your rights under the law is a good step to take as well.

Source: British Columbia Government, "Advance Care Planning," accessed July 21, 2015

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