Fries with that Will? Part Three

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Mark Handelman

WHOM TO APPOINT 

First and foremost, make sure the Attorney(s) will in fact be available to make treatment, admission and personal care decisions.  While health practitioners do not require consent for emergency treatment, there are frequent decisions that have to be made on behalf of incapable persons when they enter the health care system. 

Grantors frequently appoint different Attorneys for property than for personal care on the theory, one can watch the money and the other can ensure my care.  This decision all depends on the family dynamic.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of choosing an Attorney for personal care is frequently overlooked.  People simply don’t express their values and beliefs about end of life instructions to their family with enough frequency to facilitate making those decisions.  By way of example only, were I a Jehovah’s Witness, I would want to ensure my Attorney was prepared to allow me to die if the only way of saving my life was a blood transfusion.   

Conversely, since I have no religious beliefs precluding transfusions, why would I appoint as Attorney someone who does?  That person would either refuse to consent to my blood transfusion or perhaps be left in considerable distress with having to consent to a medical procedure he or she does not believe in.

Most people take the position that they don’t want to spend their last years alive “as a vegetable.”  They should not only make sure their Attorneys are willing to “pull the plug,” but also empower their Attorneys to do so.  To both ends, there must be discussions between Grantor and Attorneys in which the Grantor sets out his or her values and beliefs at least in general terms for the benefit of those left to make what can be very difficult emotional decisions.

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About Mark Handelman, BA, LLB, MHSc (bioethics)

Health Law Matters

m.handelman@sympatico.ca (416) 402-9476

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