Things to Know About a Living Will

The pandemic and its unpredictability forced us to respect, or at the very least acknowledge, our mortality. Subjects of life and death are no longer denied entry into our everyday realm. The realization that life can be very uncertain dawned on many, and it rarely ever gives a warning. Therefore, those who prepare for the future can go through their share of crises with ease of mind, and that makes all the difference in the end. It is essential to realize that preparing for the worst is not the same as inviting it. A crisis is more like an uncouth, unwanted guest that drops in without notice with absolute disregard for your feelings. The correct strategy is to hope for the best but to be prepared for all eventualities. There’s no better way to embark on this journey of preparedness than getting your Living Will sorted. Here are the top three things you should know about a Living Will.

What is a Living Will?

A Living Will, also known as a personal directive, advance directive or an advance care directive, are different names for the same document. It enables you to leave instructions regarding your medical treatment and personal care during your lifetime. A Living Will is not the same as a Last Will & Testament. The latter is a legal document that implements your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and custody of minor children after you die. The former is a health care directive concerning only medical matters and implemented while you are alive.

Furthermore, a Living Will is not the same as the Power of Attorney for Personal Care. A Living Will deals with health care wishes without a need for anyone to act on your behalf. In comparison, Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document that allows you to nominate a specific person who can make personal care decisions on your behalf. The usual norm includes the Living Will as part of a Power to Attorney for Personal Care. But, it can very well be a stand-alone document.

What is in a Living Will?

Now that you know what a Living Will is, the next thing to understand is what goes in it. It determines the course of your future treatment and the nature of care you want to receive when you become medically incapacitated. In a health care directive, you can make crucial decisions about yourself, such as keeping you alive on medical machines, preserving your life under distinct circumstances, or experimental treatment to save your life at any cost. Thinking about these questions and deciding while you are able and competent can be a blessing for you, your loved ones and your healthcare team. Here’s a quick note on what to include in a Living Will.

– Assigning a representative: A trustworthy and assertive friend or family member who lives close by and is ready to accept the responsibility of this kind of role.

– Level of authority: Your Living Will should instruct your assigned representative on the level of authority in carrying out your wishes. For instance, is there any room for flexibility depending on the situation, or is it strictly binding to your wishes?

– Preference for medical treatments: The kind of permissible treatments and the ones you would refuse. For instance, staying on life support, experimental drugs and treatments to save life at any cost.

– Permission to donate organs: It should also express your clear wishes on organ donation. It should have your signatures on the required health cards as per your province’s requirements to ensure the implementation of your wishes.

-Palliative care: Ways acceptable to you for reducing any pain you would be experiencing.

– Basic information: Additionally, you will need to list your medical history, medical contacts, and religious beliefs in a clear-cut and explicit manner to avoid any misunderstanding.

It would help if you took the time to think about these before sitting down to create your Living Will. Remember, the more detailed it is, the better it will serve you. Finally, the last thing to consider, is this for you?

Who should get a Living Will?

As stated earlier, a lack of preparedness in current times is more likely to leave you vulnerable. Whereas a Living Will can ensure you are in control of your health care decisions. Advance planning will not only let you have the much-needed peace of mind in times of the pandemic but it will also save your loved ones from agony and the guilt of making a life-altering decision during a crisis. So, to answer the question, a Living Will is for everyone.


As someone living in Canada, the government encourages you to have a Living Will. Even though there is always the option of creating one for yourself, we encourage you to seek legal guidance to navigate this better. You must understand the requirements which differ from province to province.

Are you looking for a law firm in Edmonton for legal assistance concerning Wills, Trust or Estate Planning? Prowse Chowne LLP is a law firm that offers legal services regarding disputes, business litigation, corporate services, employment law, and more. Get in touch with us today to book a consultation!