Content Map Terms

Making Future Decisions About Health Care


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Advance care planning involves thinking about and writing down your wishes or instructions for health care decisions in case you are not able to express yourself.  This gives you a voice and lets loved ones know what to do if they need to make decisions on your behalf.

What are your beliefs, values and wishes for your future health care? Talk with your close family, friends, and health care providers about treatments you would agree to, or refuse, if you could not express yourself. Follow these tips for your advance care planning.

  • Write down your wishes
    Think about the possibility of end of life care and specific medical procedures. Is there anything you might accept or refuse if you are unlikely to survive? These important decisions will help you make an advance care plan.
  • Choose a decision-maker you trust
    A temporary substitute decision maker can make health care or financial decisions for you when you can’t make them yourself. The Advanced Care Planning Guide has a list of people who can assume this role.
  • Make important health-care decisions now
    Make important decisions about your health care while you are still healthy enough to make them yourself. Would you accept or refuse life support and/or life-prolonging medical interventions? A representation agreement allows you to write your instructions and name someone to make your health and personal care decisions if you become incapable.

    You can decide now whether to agree to or refuse health care treatments. If you become incapacitated, your instructions will be given to a health care professional who recommends treatment to you or to your caregiver. This document is called an advance directive and contains instructions for health-care providers, which must be followed directly with regard to care you need at the time.

  • Create a Will
    If you die without a will, your property will be divided according to BC law and it will cost more to administer your estate.
  • Tell family where important papers are located
    Make sure your family knows where to find your will and other legal documents such as insurances or advance care planning documents. A family member might not be allowed access to your personal safety deposit box unless you make prior arrangements.
  • Register with the BC Transplant organ donation registry
    There is a critical shortage of organs available for transplant in BC. Your organ donation can help transform the quality of life for children and adults whose lives are threatened by organ failure. Registration can be done online and legally records your decision.

Did You Know?
The BC government's advance care planning guide My Voice: Expressing My Wishes for Future Health-care Treatment is available in English, Punjabi, and Simplified Chinese. For a copy visit:

Last Updated: October 1, 2015