Many people feel strongly about how their end of life care and other major health care decisions. Others don’t like to talk about it and simply assume that their family will know what their wishes are. If you are concerned about the health care decisions that will be made on your behalf when you are no longer able to express your own wishes, you may wish to prepare a Representation Agreement, Living Will and/or Advanced Directive. Although many people are familiar with Wills and Powers of Attorney, most are less familiar with the distinction between Representation Agreements, Living Wills and Advanced Directives. Below is a brief description of each:
A Representation Agreement is a legally binding document that allows you to appoint an individual to act as your representative with respect to matters relating to your health. Just as a Power of Attorney allows your attorney to make certain legal and financial decisions on your behalf, a Representation Agreement allows your representative to make certain health care decisions on your behalf. Generally speaking, if you are capable of making your own health care decisions, medical professionals will rely on you to guide them with respect to your health care wishes; however, if you are unable to make such decisions by reason on mental infirmity or physical inability, whenever possible, health care provides will consult your health care representative, if you have appointed one.
An Advanced Directive on the other hand sets out legally binding instructions with respect to the management of your health in circumstances where you are personally unable to provide clear instructions. While this can be a useful document for instructing medical professionals with respect to anticipated concerns, it does not account for unanticipated situations. Furthermore, health professionals can only act on it, if they are made aware of it prior to treating you. Thus, it is recommended that you carry it with you at all times, in an easily visible location, in case it is required.
Finally, a Living Will sets out your wishes with respect to your health care but is not legally binding on anyone. It merely acts as guidance for those having to make decisions on your behalf. It can be particularly useful to family members who must decide whether to keep you alive on life support or to terminate any form of artificial support.
The information provided above is intended as general advice only. For information specific to your circumstances, you should speak to professional. If you would like to set up an appointment with Laila Ali, please call 604.649.8689.
Laila is an estate and business lawyer, who founded Prime Law Corporation in August 2014. She frequently speaks on various legal topics in her practice areas and strongly believes in educating her clients and the public on basic legal concepts. Call now to set-up a free initial estate planning or business law telephone consult with Laila Ali, or to find out about upcoming seminars that she will be speaking at.