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Power of attorney disputes can arise from end-of-life choices

When British Columbia residents create an estate plan, they probably make arrangements for what will happen to their assets and debts after death, along with what would happen to them should they become incapacitated. Creating a power of attorney gives another person the authority to make health care decisions for the person granting the power when he or she is not able to due to make them. Understanding the choices the agent may face could help in choosing the right person and leaving instructions that are as clear as possible.

Each British Columbia resident must choose what medical intervention he or she wants or does not want when nearing the end of life. For instance, some may decide that they do not want emergency responders or medical personnel to perform CPR if they stop breathing or their heart stops beating. One person may want palliative care only, which means simply making a person comfortable, or curative care, which means wanting any and all medical measures to cure the condition or extend life.

Knowing that a person will have this type of control over his or her life, it is easy to see why the choice needs careful consideration. Do the individual and the proposed power of attorney share the same views on end-of-life treatment measures? If not, other family members with prior knowledge of what the incapacitated person would want could go to court in order to step in to remove and replace the power of attorney in order to make sure the "right" decisions are made.

Power of attorney disputes can cause critical delays in treatment, cause treatments not to happen that should or cause someone to receive treatments the incapacitated person would not want. For this reason, it would be a good idea to discuss these topics with a lawyer who can explain in detail what the options are. An informed decision on the part of the person creating an estate plan could prevent unnecessary litigation if the need arises.

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