Click here to read the story.
I notice that the story goes on to say that a friend of Ms. Mitchell's named Leslie Morris has filed papers with the court that will allow her to act as conservator for Ms. Mitchell. It seems that Ms. Mitchell had not done any advance planning to appoint anyone to look after matters if she should become unable to continue to do that for herself.
In a situation like this, where there are no planning documents in place, the hospitalized person has to rely on the willingness of family or friends to step up and ask the court for the legal authority to make decisions. If nobody does step forward, and decisions have to be made, it's up to a government agency - total strangers, in other words - to step in.
Ideally, Ms. Mitchell, like all of us, should have had three documents in place long before she reached the age of 71. Those three documents are a will, an enduring power of attorney for property, and a health-care directive. Those last two documents have different names in different parts of Canada, but the principle is the same: they allow us to appoint decision-makers of our choosing.
Not having control over who is going to make your crucial health care and financial decisions for you is a serious drawback. Doing your advance planning fixes that. Another drawback of not having these documents in place is the delay between you arriving in hospital, and the courts appointing someone. If only medical emergencies conveniently happened only when we had a judge on hand to give out legal documents!
Think about who you would want making life-or-death decisions for you, and make sure you put your wishes in writing.
The attached photo of Joni Mitchell from 1968 accompanied the National Post article and is credited to their files.