Getting Your Affars in Order

Creation of a Living Will: A Guide to Making Important Decisions Now

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Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and ensuring that you maintain control over important choices even in times of crisis is a crucial aspect of getting your affairs in order. A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that enables you to dictate your preferences regarding medical care and treatment, should you become unable to communicate these wishes personally. Creating a living will can provide you, your loved ones, and your healthcare providers with guidance, clarity, and peace of mind by outlining your values, beliefs, and desires during challenging circumstances.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the process of crafting a living will, exploring key topics such as defining your medical care objectives, understanding the role of a healthcare proxy, and communicating effectively with your loved ones and caregivers about your choices. Accessibility to trusted resources and discussions regarding provincial or territorial regulations governing living wills are also addressed, ensuring that your living will maintains legal validity and reflects your authentic wishes.

Defining Your Medical Care Objectives: Understanding Treatment Preferences and Limitations

Clarifying Your Wishes: When creating your living will, take the time to reflect on the medical treatment options you may desire or decline in specific situations. Consider personal, ethical, and spiritual beliefs that may impact your choices, bearing in mind that your decisions could range from aggressive life-sustaining care to more conservative interventions or palliative options.

Scenarios to Address: Develop a comprehensive understanding of various medical circumstances that could require decision-making, such as terminal illness, persistent vegetative state, and life-saving interventions like organ transplantation or invasive surgeries. Clarify your preferences in these scenarios to ensure that your living will is both practical and instructive in the event of an unforeseen health crisis.

Designating a Healthcare Proxy: The Role and Responsibilities

The Purpose of a Healthcare Proxy: A healthcare proxy, also known as a medical power of attorney, is a trusted individual whom you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you cannot communicate your wishes directly. This person plays a vital role in carrying out your directives, liaising with medical professionals, and advocating for your choices during critical moments.

Selecting the Right Person: When designating a healthcare proxy, consider factors like their understanding of your values, their ability to handle challenging decisions, and their willingness to take on this responsibility. Ensure open communication and validation of their acceptance of this role before making the appointment.

Legalities and Documentation: Canadian provinces and territories have varying regulations and requirements related to the appointment of a healthcare proxy. Consult with a legal professional and investigate local guidelines to ensure your healthcare proxy appointment is legally valid and fulfills any region-specific criteria.

Communicating Your Decisions: Discussions with Loved Ones and Caregivers

Open Dialogue: Engage in honest and open communication with your family, friends, and healthcare providers concerning your decisions, the reasons for your choices, and any concerns they may have. Fostering understanding allows for better collaboration and reduces the potential for conflicts in future cases when decisions must be made.

Documentation and Accessibility: Provide copies of your living will and healthcare proxy documentation to involved parties, including family members and healthcare providers. Having easy access to these vital documents during an emergency is necessary to promote timely compliance with your outlined directives.

Provincial and Territorial Regulations: Ensuring Legal Validity of Your Living Will

Regional differences: The validity of living wills and the recognition of healthcare proxies differ across Canadian provinces and territories. Familiarize yourself with the regulations that apply in your region to ensure your living will adheres to the necessary legal and procedural guidelines.

Legal Assistance: Seek professional legal guidance when drafting your living will and appointing a healthcare proxy. A lawyer with expertise in estate planning and healthcare directives can assist you in navigating the complexities of regional regulations and ensuring your living will achieves legal validity.

Updating Your Living Will: Embracing Change and Maintaining Relevance

Regular Review: Life is ever-evolving, and your personal beliefs, health status, or relationships may change over time. Adopt a proactive approach to reviewing your living will periodically, reassessing your choices, and making any necessary updates to guarantee that your decisions continue to reflect your values.

Significant Life Events: Markers like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child may require modifications to your living will, considering potential changes in your healthcare proxy, treatment preferences, or requested care providers. Recognize these milestones as opportunities to reevaluate your living will and remain in control of your destiny.


A living will is an invaluable tool that enables you to maintain a decisive voice in your medical care, even amidst times of uncertainty. Empower yourself to explore your values, communicate your preferences, and create a living will that genuinely embodies your desires regarding medical treatment and end-of-life decision-making.

The importance of considering regional regulations, appointing a capable healthcare proxy, and fostering open communication with your loved ones cannot be understated. By engaging in this thoughtful process today, you safeguard your right to determine your path forward and provide essential guidance to those who care for you in your time of need.

Embrace the opportunity to make important decisions now, ensuring your living will continues to resonate with your values and beliefs, fostering peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones as you navigate life’s journey. Contact Getting Your Affairs in Order for end-of-life planning.

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