The Plan Well Guide for Serious Illness

Estate planning has to do with more than just your will. There is a lot that fits in between good, healthy life and death. Once we reach mature adulthood, we might even think of the remainder of our lives as a long slow glide toward death. Of course, the glidepath is not always long and slow. Disease or injury can strike throughout the whole range of life.


For this reason, wills and estates lawyers encourage their clients to draw up not just wills but also powers of attorney (POA). Granting someone power of attorney means different things in different provinces and territories. Typically, it is used to allow the attorney or donee to act in place of the grantor/donor for matters related to property. In Ontario and New Brunswick, one can also assign a power of attorney for personal care. Elsewhere, you might see terms like representation agreement or health care directive. Please look here for a list of such legal terms across the provinces and territories of Canada.


The Power of Attorney for Personal Care

As I live in Ontario, my wife and I each created powers of attorney for personal care several years ago. Within the document there are some helpful clauses that provide a degree of guidance to my attorney. However, this document may be inadequate in and of itself to guide your “substitute decision maker” (SDM) on what sort of decisions should be made were you to become seriously ill. For example, you may have instructed that “artificial means” not be used to keep you alive. You wind up in the hospital with a serious illness. Your doctor tells your SDM that you are sufficiently ill that you need to be admitted to the ICU, intubated, and put on a ventilator. That sounds like “artificial means,” right? So, should your SDM decline that recommendation? What if the doctor tells you that there is a good chance of full recovery if this procedure is followed? Perhaps some more clarity is needed.


Enter the Plan Well Guide

One of the more well-known financial experts in Canada is Preet Banerjee. He runs a podcast called Mostly Money. His most recent podcast was episode 90: We need to talk a lot more about not dying with Dr. Daren Heyland. Dr. Heyland, a critical care physician in Kingston, ON, has developed the Plan Well Guide website to help individuals write up a plan that fills the gaps in many POAs or personal directives and helps your SDM interact more collaboratively with your doctor.


Important questions are asked that help you to clarify your values and choose what’s most important in terms of your care. For example, do you value the prolongation of life by any means, or is quality of life the only meaningful criterion for you? Is there a life worse than death? Do you understand the distinctions between Intensive Care, Medical Care, and Comfort Care? I completed the online guide and found it very helpful. And just to be clear, the guide is a FREE tool.


Who is the Plan Well Guide for?

When we are young and healthy, it is difficult to think about our own deaths. It is probably no less difficult to think about illnesses that are potentially life threatening. Even so, I think this tool makes sense for just about any adult and especially if you are dealing with chronic illnesses.


Finally, allow me to point out that the Plan Well Guide is endorsed by several health care institutions.


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Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for general information and discussion purposes only. It should not be relied upon for investment, insurance, tax, or legal decisions.