Newsletter October 2010

The focus of this month’s enews is on providing some tips for long term planning, which should include the documentation outlining your wishes. 

Current research shows that 57% of Canadian adults currently have a will. Only 21% of Canadians under the age of 35 have a will and this drastically increases to 90% for people over the age of 65[1]. Due to the unexpectedness of life, it is a good idea to plan for your future and there are a number of things that can assist you, including:

Distributing copies to key people including family members as well as your doctor and lawyer. It is important that it is regularly reviewed and updated.

When deciding who will be your power of attorney for personal care and/or finances, some things to consider:

A Power of Attorney is a legal written document that allows one person to act on behalf of and make decisions for a person who is no longer mentally capable to make these decisions for themselves due to an illness or injury.

The assigned power of attorney becomes a substitute decision maker for the incapacitated person in 2 separate areas: Property and Personal Care.

A power of attorney for property allows the attorney to be able to make financial decisions about income, property, investments etc.

The power of attorney for personal care allows the attorney to make decisions about where a person lives, what they eat, safety, clothing, personal hygiene, health care and treatment.

Selecting your POAs

The person you chose to be power of attorney for either property or personal care must be carefully selected.

They must be of an age that they will be able to handle the demands and responsibilities of acting as power of attorney and they must also be trustworthy and have an understanding of your wishes.

Draft a power of attorney for personal care that will be able to carry out the directives you have set out in your living will.

The power of attorney for personal care can be drafted by a lawyer – or you could do it yourself, as long as you follow all the steps that make such documents legal in your home province or territory.

Living wills enable a person to make their own decisions, and ensure that others are aware of these decisions which takes a great deal of pressure off family members when making decisions regarding your care (i.e. all measures or a do not resuscitate order -DNR).

Plan ahead and start early. Don’t wait until an illness has set in or a loved one has passed away. People are often not able to think clearly in times of crisis and these documents are in place to help ensure your wishes are carried out appropriately.
Talk to a lawyer who can assist you in reviewing and completing these important documents.

[1] Environics Research Group on behalf of FLA Group. Research conducted: December 15-19th, 2008. Report date: May 25, 2009.

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