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Wills make end-of-life decisions less complicated

Many people these days are taking steps to plan for the end of their lives. Part of the planning process includes getting a will, and in British Columbia it's especially important to have the right documents in place. Unlike in some provinces -- Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia for exanple -- living wills, which spell out end-of-life instructions, don't exist in British Columbia.

As for wills specifically, British Columbia residents who die without them may not have their estates distributed in the ways they would have wanted. The court will appoint an administrator for the estate of persons who die intestate (without leaving wills). There are legalities in place to divide money among surviving relatives of the deceased in accordance with the applicable statute. If no relatives can be found at all, money and property will go to the Crown.

In regard to living wills, a British Columbia man found out the province makes no provision for them. After his friend died from a terminal illness, he looked into planning ahead for his own death. He was unable to include a living will among his estate planning documents.

In the absence of living wills in B.C., lawyers experienced in wills and estate law can help residents with the three documents suggested for end-of-life planning in British Columbia.  A representation agreement, an advanced medical directive and an enduring power of attorney are as important as wills since they can point out specific wishes regarding medical care at the end of life -- issues like resuscitation, feeding or intubation. Lawyers can draw up the documents which will help define how end-of-life care is administered.

Source: British Columbia - CBC News, "End-of-life plans: Is it too morbid to plan your death?", Yvette Brend, June 25, 2017

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