If you were ever incapacitated and couldn’t express your wishes, would your family know how to handle your medical care? As unfortunate as it may sound, not all family members know your wishes and could act against your beliefs on life support, comas, and other severe medical conditions that leave you incapacitated. This is where a living will can help.
Living wills are legally binding documents that express your wishes in the case that you’re incapacitated and cannot represent your wishes for medical treatment. They leave instructions for future care and take effect if you ever become non compos mentis due to injury or old age.
Speak with a trained life insurance agent today and set up a living will to protect your interests before it’s too late. Sim Gakhar can advise you on how to safeguard your wishes and begin planning for the future.
Unlike typical wills, living wills are unrelated to the dispersal of properties after someone dies. Instead, living wills protect a living person’s wishes if they cannot speak for themselves due to medical or mental incapacitation. In other words, they inform doctors about how you want to be treated. For this reason, living wills are commonly referred to as advanced directives or directives to a physician.
Living wills constitute an important part of estate planning as they provide clear insight and guidelines for your family and physicians to follow. Without such a document, your family and doctors would be left to decide how to proceed with treatment, sometimes going against your true wishes. Sometimes these decisions grow into larger disputes, rifts in the family, and even legal battles.
Avoid these issues by establishing a living will while you are still compos mentis and receive the level of care you desire should the day ever come that you need it.
Living wills are often confused for powers of attorney for personal care, however, these two legal documents are not the same. Although both documents provide options if you are ever incapacitated, they function in completely different ways.
A power of attorney for personal care is a legal document that specifies one or more persons to act as your caretaker if you are incapable of making decisions for yourself. Under this directive, the specified caretaker can make decisions about your medical treatment, housing situation, and even personal care, including your diet, clothing, safety, and hygiene.
On the other hand, living wills clearly delineate your wishes beforehand so that a caretaker isn’t making uninformed decisions for you. You retain control over your own personal affairs even if you’re incapable of speaking or thinking clearly. Living wills act as standing documents but are also commonly drafted alongside powers of attorney for personal care.
A living will might have the word ‘will’ in its name but it’s not a directive for how your property should be distributed after death. If you wish to legally bequeath property, capital, or investments to someone, you should instead establish a will and testament. Living wills only act directives for doctors and family members during the remainder of your life, as long as you are non compos mentis.
Living wills take effect as soon as you are deemed not of sound mind, even if you are still alive. After you pass away, your living will ceases to be of importance. At that point, your will and testament will declare your wishes for post-mortem burial rites and how your estate should be handled.
Before establishing a living will, understand that living wills are not always upheld. Although they are legal documents, living wills are not always binding, especially if a family member strongly objects to your wishes about medical treatment. If the family member has reasonable cause to ignore the living will, physicians may side with your relative and circumvent your wishes.
Should this happen, your living will can be brought before a court where a judge will decide whether to uphold or disregard your wishes. These situations are uncommon but not unheard of. Therefore, speak with your family before establishing a living will and explain your wishes. If your relatives understand your wishes and reasoning, they will be less likely to intervene should you ever be deemed incapacitated.
Under current Canadian law, you do not have to hire a lawyer to write a living will. Canadian law makes it easy to draft your own living will as long as you can sign it in the presence of a witness. This helps guarantee that all Canadians, including those living in far-flung provinces, can declare their personal wishes before it’s too late.
Drafting a legally viable living will is no easy task, though. To create a will that can stand before a judge, we recommend speaking with a trained insurance agent or legal representative. An expert can help ensure that your living will contains clearly expressed instructions for your medical care, can be safely stored and shared with relatives and physicians, and can be updated if your living situation changes.
An expert agent can also help identify which documents should be filed according to your provincial laws. Currently, you can create a living will in tandem with a power of attorney for personal care in Ontario by following the provincial guidelines here. Don’t stress the validity of your living will when a professional can take care of it for you.
A living will can protect your wishes when you’re unable to advocate for yourself. For more information on writing legally valid living wills within Ontario territory, contact Sim Gakhar. Sim is a licensed insurance agent and expert investment advisor who can help you draft and finalize a coherent and prudent living will. Don’t leave your medical wishes to chance. Create an advanced directive today and live with ease.
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