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Wills and Estates

Power of Attorney for Personal Care

 
 

Purpose of a Power of Attorney for Personal Care

The main purpose of a Power of Attorney for Personal Care is to give you control and peace of mind. It lets you appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, and it ensures that your health will be in the hands of someone you have personally chosen, as opposed to someone appointed by the court.

You can give someone a Power of Attorney for Personal Care if you want them to make personal care decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of making them yourself.

Personal Care

Personal care decisions are decisions about your health care and medical treatment, diet, housing, clothing, hygiene, and safety.

If you become mentally incapable of making personal care decisions, someone else must make them for you. This person is called your substitute decision-maker.

For some decisions, including those about your medical treatment, the law says your doctor and other health care providers must get your substitute decision-maker's consent before taking action.

Making a Power of Attorney for Personal Care lets you choose a person you trust to be your substitute decision-maker if you become mentally incapable in the future.

Making a Power of Attorney for Personal Care is also a way to make sure your wishes about personal care decisions will be respected. It gives you a chance to say what you want and do not want. For example, if you do not want certain medical treatments if you get seriously ill, you can state this in your Power of Attorney.

Coming into Effect

The Power of Attorney for Personal Care takes effect only if you become mentally incapable of making some or all of your personal care decisions. On the other hand, a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property comes into effect as soon as it is signed and witnessed, unless you state otherwise.

Power of Attorney documents are often kept in a safe place to use only in the event of mental incapacity at a later date.

Who can give a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?

There are certain rules about who can give a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, and who can be appointed as an attorney. To give a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, you must:

  • be 16 years of age or older, and
  • have the capacity to understand what authority you are giving your attorney, and the consequences.

What is a “living will”?

The expression “living will” is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill and can’t communicate your wishes about treatment.  A “living will” just addresses your treatment and personal care wishes and does not need to name anyone or be written in any specific way.

Incapacity

What does “incapable of making personal care decisions” mean?

It means that a person can’t understand the information that is relevant to the particular personal care decision or can’t appreciate what could happen as a result of making a certain decision (or not making a decision) about the matter.

What happens if I don’t make a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?

If you become incapable of making decisions about medical care or about admission to a long term care facility, a family member would automatically have the right to make these decisions for you unless someone else is appointed by the Consent and Capacity Board to be your representative. If there is no family member or representative who is available capable or willing, the OPGT is required to make these decisions on your behalf.

In a limited number of situations where the situation is very complicated or there is a dispute, the court may appoint a “Guardian of the Person” who will have exclusive authority to make your personal care decisions.

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