The Elephant in the Room

Let’s face it, if there is one area of life that we simply have no interest in talking about, it’s the end of life. And while we may not wish to discuss the topic, advancements in modern medicine and its ability to help us live longer, means more issues to consider, decisions to make, and room for serious unintended consequences. The result of burying our heads in the sand about end of life topics can lead to choices being made for us that we would not have made for ourselves, financial loss and fracturing the relationships of those we love the most. The reality is: “We are all going to die – it is simply a timing issue” and as with most things in life, proper planning and discussion can make all the difference.

As you consider later in life issues, there are 4 main things to consider and discuss with those who may ultimately make or be impacted by your decisions:

  1. Have you thought about your own death? What does it look like to you?
    Most of us don’t want to contemplate our own death but we may have strong feelings about the way those that have passed before us have lived, perhaps lingered for a long time and died. What choices would you have made if it was you?
  2. Who is your Power of Attorney for Health?
    Wills are often created with not much thought regarding your Power of Attorney for Health, often naming all your children as alternates after your spouse.
    • Have you told your spouse and children what is important to you in this area?
    • Is it practical for all your children to act in this role?
    • Do they live in the same city as you?
  3. Do you have a Do Not Resuscitate?
    Recently hospital emergency staff have been instructed NOT to accept standard Do Not Resuscitate language such as “I do not wish heroic or artificial means to prolong my life”. The reason for this is that the language is too vague. “Artificial means” can mean any number of things to different people. The liability to the hospital is too great.
    • Have you thought about what should be included in your DNR?
  4. Have you thought about MAID?
    Medical Assistance in Death seems to be in the news every other day lately. The laws are changing and changing quickly. Last year, the Quebec Superior Court struck down the provision that the natural death of an applicant for MAID must be “reasonably foreseeable.” The Government of Canada is now looking for public consultation regarding this important health initiative.
    • If you are diagnosed with a life-ending illness what will you do?

These are all issues to consider and discuss that often lie outside a standard Will. As you look to protect yourself, and those you are closest with, speaking with an estate consultant who includes end of life discussions as part of overall estate planning can help determine what works for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room. In fact, dealing with it can bring peace of mind for you today and for your family later.


About Laura Ross:
We have all heard stories of families being torn apart after the death of a parent over the family cottage, money that has been left to children and even how the end of life occurred for the parent. Laura Ross Estate Consulting helps families navigate all the areas of estates including health care, financial directives, and overall estate goals. Having a well thought out, well structured and well-communicated estate is the best gift you can give your family. For more information or to schedule your own personal estate consultation contact Laura Ross, M.B.A, Certified Executor Advisor,, 416-723-3316

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