Planning for healthcare decisions

Since February 2000, adults in B.C. have been able to authorize a “representative” to help make decisions, or make decisions for the adult about health care,and personal care in a “representation agreement” made under the new Representation Agreement Act (the “Act”). (See our article, Incapacity Planning and the New Representation Agreement Act ).

One of the questions often asked is how a representation agreement affects living wills or advance medical directives which a client has already signed. The answer is that living wills and advance medical directives have greater significance than they had when originally signed. This is because, prior to the proclamation of the Act, a living will or advance directive was merely an expression of a person’s wishes. It had no legally binding effect. Now, however, the Act requires that when a representative helps an adult make decisions or makes decisions on behalf of the adult must (subject to the terms of the agreement):

  • Consult, to the extent reasonable, with the adult to determine his or her current wishes, and comply with those wishes if it is reasonable to do so; or
  • If the adult’s wishes cannot be determined or it is not reasonable to comply with them, comply with any instructions or wishes the adult expressed while capable.
  • In other words, any “instructions or wishes” found in a living will or advance medical directive must be honoured.

While this is the outcome most clients would wish, it is important to stress that it is now more important than ever to keep living wills and advance medical directives current. With advances in medical technology and treatments, the wishes contained in a living will made even five years ago may no longer be the client’s best choice. Horne Coupar recommends that you consult regularly with your health care professionals and communicate your current wishes to your representative.

Please call or email us in the event you wish to retain our services.