Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for educational purposes only. If you need legal advice with respect to how to write a will or living will, you should seek professional assistance (e.g. make a post on Dynamic Legal Forms). We have wills and estates lawyers registered who can assist you and provide you with free information and quotes on preparing your will and/or living will (not to mention enduring power of attorneys over property).
In Ontario, the words “Living Will” are used to refer to a document in which a person states what their final wishes are to be concerning their life when they can no longer communicate those final wishes. Generally, people say that, when this state occurs, they want to be taken off of life support (artificial machines keeping them alive) and allowed to die in a natural and dignified manner and only receive medication to deal with pain. Alternatively, they can say that they want to be kept alive using all possible measures. These documents are not legally binding and enforceable contracts in Ontario, but rather are directives of mere expressions of people’s final wishes. Indeed, there is no legal term in any statute that refers to a “Living Will”. Keep in mind that a “Living Will” only has relevance while a person is alive (unlike a Last Will and Testatement, which kicks in after a person passes away).
A Living Will is NOT necessarily the same thing as a Power of Attorney for Personal Care.
Power of Attorney for Personal Care
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document made under the Substitute Decisions Act wherein a person names a person (i.e. the attorney) and usually a substitute person (i.e. a substitute attorney who makes decisions in case the attorney cannot or will not) who will have decision-making authority to make health care decisions on the former person’s behalf. Importantly, the terms of one’s Living Will can be incorporated into your Power of Attorney for Personal Care. The latter are legal documents which can be enforced. Keep in mind that your Continuing Power of Attorney for Personal Care only applies while a person is alive (unlike a Last Will and Testatement, which kicks in after a person passes away). A Living Will differs from a Power of Attorney over Personal Care because, with respect to the latter, no one needs to be named or appointed for one’s final wishes to be known.