Today, BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal brought by the
family of Margaret Anne Bentley, a patient at the final stage of
Alzheimer's disease. My colleague Amy Mortimore posted a blog when the
family of Mrs. Bentley commended the lawsuit in August 2013, and
Areet Kaila posted a blog when the BC Supreme Court released its
decision in February 2014.
In 1991, Mrs. Bentley signed a "statement of wishes"
in which she asked that she be allowed to die should she suffer
from an extreme disability with no expectation of recovery and that
she not be provided with nourishment or liquids. In another undated
"statement of wishes" purportedly to have been signed by
Mrs. Bentley as well, she asked that she be allowed to die and not
be kept alive by artificial means such as life support systems,
tube feeding, antibiotics , resuscitation or blood transfusions.
She also indicated in this undated document that she would accept
basic care and request aggressive palliative care, drugs, or any
other measures to keep her from pain or distress.
In 1999, Mrs. Bentley was diagnosed with Alzheimer's
disease. By 2013, Mrs. Bentley lost her ability to make physical
movement, and had not spoken since 2010. She did not recognize her
family members or any other person.
In 2013, Mrs. Bentley's family commenced the lawsuit
seeking, amongst other things, a declaration that Mrs. Bentley not
be given nourishment or liquids. The family asserted that Mrs.
Bentley expressed strong wishes while she was mentally capable that
she did not want to be given nourishment or liquids in her current
The Respondents, the care home in which Mrs. Bentley stayed and
Fraser Health Authority, maintained the position that despite the
advanced stage of her illness, Mrs. Bentley chose to open her mouth
and eat, and this choice must be respected. The Respondents argued
that to refuse to offer food and liquids would constitute neglect
under the Adult Guardianship Act.
The lawsuit was heard in December 2013, and by Reasons for Judgment released in February
2014, the BC Supreme Court held that there is a distinction between
health care and personal care. The Health Care (Consent) and
Care Facility (Admission) Act makes it clear that health care
must not be provided without obtaining consent, but offering food
on a spoon is personal care to which Mrs. Bentley is capable of
consenting through her behavior, by opening her mouth for food and
liquids. The Supreme Court held that British Columbia legislature
did not intend to allow reference to previously expressed wishes to
be relied on to refuse basic personal care that is necessary to
The family of Mrs. Bentley appealed the decision of the BC
Supreme Court. By Judgment released today, the Court of Appeal
upheld the lower court's decision.
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On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
It is not uncommon for parents to provide monetary gifts to their adult children. Parents may wish to help their child with a down payment on a property, or help pay out their child's existing mortgage.
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