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Canadian Living Wills

A Living Will is not to be confused with a Last Will and Testament. A Living Will is active when you are still alive, and allows you to express the kind of life sustaining treatment you wish to receive if you are in an irreversible, terminal condition or a Persistent Vegetative State. This is commonly referred to as your desire to "pull the plug".

Together with a Power of Attorney and Last Will and Testament, your Living Will is part of what most people regard as a complete set of estate planning documents.

Each Province has its own laws covering your rights to prepare Advance Directives, and in some Provinces these laws are rapidly changing.

A Living Will can be created for all Canadian Provinces, excluding Quebec, by an online service at www.LegalWills.ca.

In Ontario, the Substitute Decisions Act has been in effect since 1992. This Act gives you the right to make decisions about your own health care. If at some time you become unable to voice these desires and decisions, you can let them be known through your Living Will. A Living Will may be made by anyone who is at least 16 years of age and who is presumed to understand the nature and effect of the Living Will. A Living Will for Ontario can be created at www.LegalWills.ca.

In British Columbia the Health Care (consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act (2000) states that if you unable to make your own health care decision and you do not have a representative defined by a representation agreement, your health care provider must turn to your nearest relative to act as your substitute decision maker for health care. This person must follow any instructions that you expressed while capable, including those written in your Advance Directives including a Living Will. A Living Will for British Columbia can be created at www.LegalWills.ca.

In Alberta, the Personal Directive Act has been in effect since 1997. This Act gives you the right to make decisions about your own health care. If at some time you become unable to voice these desires and decisions, you can let them be known through your Personal Directive. A Personal Directive may be made by anyone who is at least 18 years of age and who is presumed to understand the nature and effect of the Personal Directive. A Living Will for Alberta can be created at www.LegalWills.ca.

In Manitoba, the Health Care Directives Act has been in effect since 1992. This Act gives you the right to make decisions about your own health care. If at some time you become unable to voice these desires and decisions, you can let them be known through your Health Care Directive. A Health Care Directive may be made by anyone who has the capacity to make health care decisions (this is presumed to be at 16 years of age). In Manitoba, the Health Care Directive does not have to follow any particular form structure, but must be in writing, dated and signed and witnessed. A Living Will for Manitoba can be created at www.LegalWills.ca.

In New Brunswick, the Infirm Persons Act gives you the right to create a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This document allows you to choose another person to act on your behalf and make health care decisions for you when you cannot make them. Often the Power of Attorney for Personal Care is accompanied by a Living Will. In a Living Will you set out detailed written instructions about your health care treatment, generally in anticipation of a terminal illness. New Brunswick does not have any legislation dealing with living wills. This means that New Brunswick does not recognize a living will as a legal document. However, a living will does give your doctor and family a strong statement of your wishes and if the health care professionals know of your specific written instructions, they may follow your wishes. You can create a Living Will for New Brunswick at www.LegalWills.ca.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Advance Health Care Directives Act has been in effect since 1995. This Act gives you the right to make decisions about your own health care. If at some time you become unable to voice these desires and decisions, you can let them be known through your Advance Health Care Directive. An Advance Health Care Directive lets you choose another person, a "Substitute Decision Maker". It also lets you provide written instructions for decisions regarding your future. You can create a Living Will for Newfoundland and Labrador at www.LegalWills.ca.

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