Do you have specific cultural or religious beliefs about health care that you want to make sure are honoured? Do you require a special kind of health care treatment? An Advance Directive can help you.

What is an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive is a document that sets out any specific wishes you have for health care.

It’s really important not to make an Advance Directive unless you feel really strongly about the health care involved. This is because if you change your mind about the kind of health care you have addressed in an Advance Directive, and you don’t update your Advance Directive, then we will have a real problem overriding your Advance Directive.

When should I use an Advance Directive?

An Advance Directive is most helpful if you have specific cultural or religious beliefs about health care, or if you require specific treatments unique to you as a result of allergies, sensitivities or complicated treatment plans.

If your beliefs are unlikely to change over time, then an Advance Directive is more useful – your heath care providers don’t need to worry about whether the wishes set out in your Advance Directive are still current.

For example, if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, and you don’t want blood transfusions, then you may want to make an Advance Directive to make sure that your health care providers know not to give you blood transfusions in a medical situation. It’s unlikely that you will change your mind about blood transfusions as a form of treatment, and therefore an Advance Directive could be helpful for you.

However, an Advance Directive is less effective when you just have general concerns about health issues (for example, if you don’t like taking pills, or have a fear of needles). Since these wishes and feelings are vague and could change over time, you may not want your health care providers to have to try and interpret what you mean. Appointing a person under a Representation Agreement might be a better way to go for you.

When should I NOT make an Advance Directive?

You should not make an Advance Directive for any kind of health care treatment that might undergo substantial changes in the future. Medicines and other treatments change and improve over time, and it’s important to be open to options.

It might be more appropriate in those cases to make a Representation Agreement – a Representation Agreement appoints someone who can speak for your health care needs if you are unable to do so yourself. They may be better positioned to make a “game day” decision with up to date information.

Are there restrictions on Advance Directives?

An Advance Directive does not deal with personal care issues, such as shelter, food, diet or dress. Nor does it deal with your financial affairs. It can only deal with your health care needs. You also cannot consent to Medical Assistance in Dying using an Advanced Directive.

An Advance Directive does not appoint a person to help you.

Do I need a BC Notary or a BC Lawyer to draft an Advance Directive?

Either a BC Notary or a BC Lawyer can draft an Advance Directive for you.