Living Wills/Health Care Directives
What is a living will?
A living will is also called a health care directive.
The Health Care Directives and Substitute Health Care Decisions Makers Act, which came into force in 1997, allows you to write your own health care directive.
Health care directives give directions about medical treatment to treatment providers. It comes into effect when you are no longer able to make and communicate your own health care decisions.
There are two kinds of health care directives:
Your directive can also be a combination of both these types, including specific treatment directions for certain situations, as well as a proxy named for other health care decisions.
Why prepare a health care directive?
The directive lets you make decisions about your future treatment. It makes sure that your wishes will be known and respected.
Who can make a directive?
Any person over the age of 16 who is able to make his/her own health care decisions can write a directive. A directive is especially useful to terminally ill and elderly individuals who have specific directions about treatment that they would like honoured as death approaches.
What should my directive say?
What happens if I am not able to make a decision and do not have a health care directive or a proxy?
If you become unable to make your own health care decisions and you have not named a proxy and have not provided a specific written directive, the Act permits health care decisions to be made by:
How should I write a health care directive?
What should I do with my directive after I've written it?
Discuss your directions with your proxy if you have named one, your family or others close to you, and your doctor. You may want to keep a copy in your wallet and give copies to your proxy, doctor and those close to you.
Can I cancel a directive?
Yes. The best way to cancel a directive is to destroy it or write on the document that you are cancelling it. In an emergency, you can also tell another person that you no longer want to follow the directive.
You may also simply write a new directive, which will automatically replace your old one. Let those who have copies of the earlier directive know that it has been cancelled or replaced.
Can I change the directive?
Yes. Written changes must be signed and dated by you.