Clients should state their views on physician-assisted suicide in their estate planning documents, says Fasken Martineau lawyer Corina Weigl.
“[We] include it in our powers of attorney today in anticipation of where the law may be 10 years from now,” she says, explaining the law may later allow for physician-assisted death decisions to be made by power of attorney, based on the patient’s explicit wishes.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada legalized physician-assisted suicide for mentally capable adults with severe medical conditions. The court gave lawmakers 12 months to draft associated legislation before the existing ban is repealed.
The court decision says the choice to die can’t be delegated to a power of attorney or guardian. “That would be more akin to euthanasia, which is not what the Supreme Court of Canada was talking about,” says Jan Goddard, a lawyer specializing in elder law at Goddard Gamage Stephens. She doesn’t think the law will ever delegate physician-assisted death decisions.
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