On the second day of Christmas... While you are all together, consider having this difficult conversation.

Posted by Luisa-Maria Maroun, Malcolm Campbell on 12 November 2015
On the second day of Christmas... While you are all together, consider having this difficult conversation.

In general people understand that having a current Will is the first step in ensuring that your estate is administered in accordance with your wishes after you pass away. However, a serious accident, heart attack or stroke could change your life, or that of one of your loved ones, in a split second.

While speaking about death or serious illness is not a comfortable conversation to have, not having the conversation can lead to unwanted medical procedures being carried out and questions from medical professionals as to what is believed to be the patient’s wishes when they are unable to communicate.

Where a person's wishes are not known, family members and doctors in are placed in the unenviable position of trying to guess what the patient would have wanted, which leads to the possibility of risky and intrusive procedures being carried out which, had the patient's wishes been known ahead of time, would not have been performed.

As part of proper estate planning, we recommend the preparation of an Advance Health Care Directive (also known as a "Living Will"). A Living Will documents your wishes regarding your future health care for various medical conditions. It allows your family and medical staff to carry out your wishes, removes the guess work and helps to ensure that the final stage of your life is dignified. It is important that updates are made as you age or if a significant medical condition is diagnosed.

An Advance Heath Care Directive gives you the confidence that your wishes regarding your health care will followed in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. It also gives your loved ones the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are receiving care and treatment in accordance with your wishes.

Having the conversation with family members ahead of time and being pro-active with your estate planning helps to relieve the decision making burden placed on family members, who will already likely be grappling the stress and anxiety that comes with having a sick loved one. It is never too early to have the discussion.