New kit aims to help lawyers broach tough topics of wills, life insurance and investment planning

Firms work with Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association to make advance care planning toolkit

New kit aims to help lawyers broach tough topics of wills, life insurance and investment planning

A new resource called a legal toolkit was recently released to help lawyers and their clients through the process of advance care planning.

It’s one of two complementary resources — a lawyer’s toolkit and a public toolkit, both titled “Living Well, Planning Well” — compiled by Harper Grey LLP and Torkin Manes LLP, alongside the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

The lawyer’s toolkit, created by Speak Up and the aforementioned firms, explains why ACP is crucial and what role it plays in the overall concept of future life planning, which encompasses other matters like estates and wills, life insurance, and investment planning. The resource instructs lawyers on how to initiate conversation with their clients with regard to delicate matters, such as choosing their substitute decision makers, who can speak on their behalf if they cannot.

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According to the press release, the legal toolkit “can help lawyers make a significant difference in their clients’ lives by encouraging them to reflect on and discuss their wishes, choose appropriate SDMs and alternates, and share their wishes with their SDMs and health care providers.”

“The laws vary between provinces and territories and the general public often lacks sufficient knowledge to successfully engage in ACP, and lawyers are often unsure of the different health care options that could be explored within their clients’ ACP,” said Laurel Gillespie, Director of Advance Care Planning in Canada.

Accompanying the legal toolkit is a resource for the public, developed by Speak Up and the BC Centre for Palliative Care. The public toolkit, which employs plain language for those less well-versed in legal jargon, provides an overview of Canadian legal norms around ACP, as well as infographic summaries of the legal requirements per province and territory, with the exception of Nunavut, which does not have ACP legislation in place. The resource also briefly describes the processes involved in health care consent, capacity, ACP, and substitute decision-making.

“With these two resources, the public has better access to plain language explanations of their rights and requirements in ACP, and lawyers have an aid for initiating ACP conversations with their clients, should they wish,” said CHPCA Executive Director Sharon Baxter. “Together, these resources enable more opportunities for people in Canada to exercise their rights to plan their future care.”

In a news release dated Nov. 25, Harper Grey partner Kimberly Jakeman and associate counsel Sandra Abley expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to share their recommendations for the content of the legal toolkit, as well as for the chance to collaborate with Torkin Manes.

Lawyers may access the legal toolkit here, and may share the public toolkit with their clients here.

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