New end-of-life laws explained
“Dying doesn’t bother me. It’s just the preliminaries that I’m concerned about,” Leonard Cohen once said in an interview.
And since January, we in Quebec have a new law to help us with the preliminaries. The December 10th law concerning physicianassisted dying affects a few people and has received a lot of attention. But there’s another new provision that affects everyone over 18, and has not received much attention. It concerns giving advance medical directives. It’s a new consent form specifying now what interventions you wish to have, or not, in case you become mentally disabled in the future.
That’s what Me. Tim Leonard, notary, explained last week in North Hatley, and what he will be talking about again on Wednesday, May 4, in Magog.
Imagine an 18-yearold has a car accident and has lost all cognitive functions. If he or she has given his advance medical directives, the family and medical staff will know whether the person wants, or not, to have cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and four other kinds of care, including forced feeding. This is good for anyone in the final stage of life with neuro-degenerative impairment, loss of cognitive functions, or in a state of dementia.
Medicare’s website, http://www.ramq.gouv. qc.ca/ offers information in English on how to get the new standardized advance medical directives form to fill out. But it advises you read additional information that is available in French only before filling it out.
Better yet, Me. Leonard suggests you see your notary. “If you fill it out with the notary, it has the force of a legal document.”
That’s not the only news on the legal aspects of having a happy ending to your life. “The law changes every day,” Me. Leonard said. “New laws are made, but also in court proceed-
ings, there are new interpretations of existing laws.”
Case in point: the new code of civil procedures that came into effect on January 1st. It stipulates who is to be present at the opening of your safety deposit box after you pass away, for example.
Leonard’s presentation on Wills, Living Wills, and End-of-Life Legal Issues will be on Wednesday at the Memphremagog Community Learning Centre, Princess Elizabeth School, 120 Bellevue, Magog. (Enter by Door No. 3 from the parking lot and press the CLC Room buzzer.)
It is part of a new series of five workshops called “Happy Endings” in both Magog and North Hatley. On Friday in North Hatley, you can learn the ins and outs of designing your own memorial service or celebration of life. The workshop is called “Last Words.” Rev. Carole Martignacco, an expert in personalized ceremonies, leads it, and she gives participants a guide to designing memorials that leave a legacy of their own personal values. Last Words is offered at UUEstrie, 201 Main St., North Hatley.
The two series are organized by UUEstrie, the Unitarian Universalists in North Hatley. The workshops in Magog are in partnership with the Memphremagog Community Learning Centre, and are on Wednesdays. The ones in North Hatley are on Fridays. In both places, the sessions are from 10 a.m. to noon, and all are in English. They are free of charge. All are welcome; no pre-registration is required. For more information, see www. uuestrie.ca, the Facebook page UU Estrie, or call 819-842-4146.