Spouses commonly name each other as their Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POA PC) in case one of them becomes incapacitated. A POA PC is a legal document that gives someone the power or authority to make decisions on your behalf in the areas of: health care, medical treatment, nutrition, hygiene, clothing, housing and safety. Should one spouse die or they both need substitute decision-makers, the choice of attorneys is not as obvious for childless couples as for those who have children. Siblings, nieces, nephews, neighbours, friends and even clergy are amongst the list of prospects that a childless couple may consider. Factors that may steer you towards one prospect over another are:
- Geographic closeness to you
- Willingness to accept the responsibility, which could be time-consuming
- Level-headedness in crisis situations
- Likelihood they would honour your wishes
If you plan to remain at home, you could also try to assemble a network of friends that may help you in future. You can then give this list to your named Personal Care Attorney.
You could also make arrangements with a geriatric-care manager or health care advocate who can work with your Attorney for Personal Care (APC) if you ever need assistance. A manager or advocate would supervise your care, help with any insurance issues, monitor your prescriptions, hire a Personal Support Worker (PSW), research home equipment, etc. For a list of health care advocacy companies, please see my resource Achieve Health Victory Through Patient Advocacy.
Here, it is important to recognize that your personal care decisions remain the legal responsibility of your APC, if they have accepted their appointment in your POA PC. This does not mean your APC is responsible, for example, to do the actual cooking, cleaning, driving you to medical appointments, and other tasks associated with your care. In this regard, they may hire the geriatric-care manager and PSW mentioned above, or any other service provider for your personal care. It is the decision to do so that remains with your APC.
If you don`t appoint an Attorney for Personal Care in a POA PC, someone who wishes to make personal care decisions for you will have to apply to the Court to become your Guardian of Personal Care, which involves considerable time and expense, often costing thousands of dollars. If no one applies to become your Guardian of Personal Care, the government will have responsibility for that decision-making role. Here in Ontario, that institution is the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
For further information about making a Power of Attorney for Personal Care or for Property, or regarding your role as an Attorney in that regard, please contact us here.
Andrea Kelly, Lawyer, has extensive experience in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate administration matters. She provides clients with a high standard of timely professionalism and expertise, incorporating a very thorough fact-finding process. This is quite often enlightening for her clients and facilitates individually tailored services. If you would like to know more, feel free to use the easy contact form or read Andrea’s bio.