When Should You Have Your Personal Planning Documents In Place? NOW!

Our office is very busy in the area of Wills and personal planning.

So many people do not understand the importance of having personal planning documents in place.

Over the years, I have been witness to situations where those documents proved invaluable to clients of all ages.

I have been appointed executor/ trustee for many senior clients who have no family or no family close by; I also act for many clients as their attorney (under their Power of Attorney) and representative (under their Representation Agreement).

I have had clients end up in hospital, unable to be involved in their own decision-making because they did not feel comfortable appointing me or another person to make future personal care decisions for them. Unfortunately, some have ended up receiving treatment they did not want because they were unable to speak for themselves and no one was legally named to speak for them.

A 66-year-old client suffered a minor fall last week that led to a catastrophic spinal cord injury due to a pre-existing condition. I had been appointed her executor/trustee and attorney 8 years ago, but she had not appointed me her representative under a Representation Agreement. She had, however, done an Advance Health Care Directive herself and just happened to send me a copy of it last year. 

I found out about her fall when I received an urgent call from Vancouver General Hospital because in all her medical records, my name was noted as her emergency contact. They were about to take her into surgery.

The surgery, if successful, would have left her a quadriplegic; she would have needed full-time care in a care facility.

The Advance Health Care Directive that she had sent me very clearly stated “any condition where others have to wash, dress, and feed” her or if she could not stay in her own home would be intolerable or unacceptable. I was able to provide that document to the hospital to stop a surgery she absolutely did not want. In that instance, the Advance Health Care Directive proved a very important tool.

My client died shortly after her ventilator was removed that evening because the doctors were able to follow her wishes . . . she had made them known.

Alert: When you need a Power of Attorney, Representation Agreement, or Advance Health Care Directive, it is generally too late to do one. Please consider doing those important personal planning documents now with your BC Notary. 


Tiah Workman is a BC Notary practicing in Nanaimo.

Posted in Personal Planning