The province of B.C. has proclaimed April 10 to 16 as Make a Will Week.

Langley groups push people to make their wills and medical directives

Who has the authority to take you off of life support?

Some local organizations hope to help people get over reluctance to make a will and spell out their wishes for medical care.

The groups are hosting a free workshop on advance planning (spelling out medical care wishes) and financial planning, including will and estates.

The April 13 workshop is open to everyone, and organized by the Langley Hospice Society, Stepping Stone Community Services Society, the Langley Care Foundation, the Langley Seniors’ Resource Society, and the Langley Animal Protection Society.

“This is a first time for us doing this event,” said Shannon Todd Booth with the local hospice society.

She said the goal is to encourage people to have those “conversations that need to happen” in families so people’s medical wishes and financial wishes are understood by others.

“It takes some of the guess work out of what our loved ones want,” she said.

Advance planning sets out what a person wants medically so others don’t have to guess about whether to have a procedure done or even withdraw life support.

Todd Booth said everyone should have a formal medical directive, not just seniors. People get into accidents or have sudden illnesses, and minor children don’t have the legal authority to make decisions for parents.

“We don’t know what life’s bringing,” she said.

She noted that the workshop is to help people understand these topics so they can take the next steps and set up the documents.

It’s also to help people understand there’s some formality to medical planning and estate planning so they follow the law.

But people can be reluctant to delve into these sorts of issues.

“I think a lot of it is avoidance,” she said. “We think we have time.”

Another key factor for medical planning and estate planning is understanding that circumstances change over time.

Someone appointed to make medical decisions may pass away or someone’s views of what they want for medical care change as they age.

“It’s not a conversation that’s a one off and it’s written in stone,” Todd Booth noted.

The workshop will help people understand how to make changes to their plans.

The morning session is on health, specifically Advance Care planning and runs 10 a.m. to noon. Cari Hoffman, project coordinator for Advance Care Planning with Fraser Health, is the presenter.

There is a session from 1 to 2 p.m. on financial health and decision making with Tanya Lyn Werk, of Investors Group Financial Services. The topics will include estate planning, charitable giving and more.

A session from 2 to 3 p.m. features a panel of experts and the opportunity to ask questions.

Hoffman and Werk are joined by accountant Diane Cere of DMC Accounting, family lawyer Scott Taylor and Valerie Cairns, a retired trustee and estate planner.

Langley City has donated use of the Douglas Recreation Centre. The room capacity is 100 people but if there’s demand, additional space can be opened and up to 200 people can attend.

The Langley Seniors Resource Society is overseeing meal planning. A lunch of sandwiches and coffee or tea is by donation.

This free workshop is open to the public but people must sign up in advance. RSVP to info@langleyhospice.com or call 604-530-1115 for planning purposes.

Make a Will Week

April 6 to 12, 2015, is Make-a-Will Week in British Columbia.

According to a 2014 report for BC Notaries, just 55 per cent of British Columbians have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date will.

A will is the best way to ensure that the people, charities and organizations of your choice receive the benefit of your estate.

If you die without a will, your estate may not be distributed in the way you would have wished and the costs of administering your estate may also be higher.

Having a will helps ensure that important questions for parents – like who will raise your young children if both you and your spouse die – are answered.

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