The Importance of Choosing Your Power of Attorney for Personal Care

October 1, 2012
My colleagues, Jasmine and Elaine have both commented on when a POA for Finance should/can be acted upon. What about a POA for personal care? 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. The person you chose to be power of attorney for either property or personal care must be carefully selected. As has been stated, they must be of an age that they will be able to handle the demands and responsibilities of acting as power of attorney. What would a trigger event be? How would you know if one occurred? The wording of the document dictates the answer. Usually the trigger, is a finding of incapacity but who decides? Again, the wording is critical. Capacity evaluators within the Province of Ontario have successfully completed the Capacity Assessor’s course under the Substitute Decisions Act are listed on a roster with the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The very important issue that I deal with on a regular basis- is the Who. Who will you choose to be your POA for personal care? Will it be your adult child and if there is more than one, will it be both of them, all of them, and will it be jointly or severally. Even for those who do have children, many clients have selected NOT to name a child, who might also be a beneficiary or with whom they no longer have contact or simply they are not available. Many consider a friend to act for them (August 16, 2011 blog ‘You Can’t Choose Your Family BUT You Can Choose Your Friends (and your POA)’. If so will it be a friend who is the same age as you and may not be able to act on your behalf due to their own health issues; or will it be a distant niece or nephew, who you haven’t seen in several years or who might live in a different city, province or country? This is not an easy choice nor one to be taken lightly. Relationships change over time so who you pick today may not be who you would like to have advocating for you down the road; it is important to remember that these documents can be legally changed as long as the grantor continues to be capable. In an ideal setting, the Powers of Attorney should work well together, with care requirements dictating what is needed which can then be financially supported. Make an informed decision- your care depends on it.
-Audrey Miller

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