Estate Planning
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Power of Attorney for Personal Care: A Comprehensive Guide for Ontario Residents

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
February 27, 2023

What is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC)?

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC) is a legal document allowing you to appoint someone to make decisions about your healthcare and personal well-being if you cannot do so yourself. This can happen for various reasons, such as illness, injury, or age-related conditions.

Your attorney for personal care will have the authority to make a wide range of decisions on your behalf, including:

  • Whether to consent to medical treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy
  • Where you live, such as in a nursing home or with family
  • Who you spend time with, such as friends and family members
  • What you eat and wear
  • How your finances are managed

Why is a POAPC important?

A POAPC is essential because it allows you to ensure that your wishes will be respected, even if you cannot express them yourself. Knowing that someone you trust makes decisions on your behalf also gives you peace of mind.

Without a POAPC, if you cannot make decisions for yourself, a court may appoint a guardian to make decisions on your behalf. This guardian may not be someone you know or trust, and they may not make decisions in your best interests.

How to create a POAPC

To create a POAPC in Ontario, you must:

  1. Be at least 16 years old and mentally capable of understanding the document's implications.
  2. Choose someone to be your attorney for personal care.
  3. Discuss your wishes and values with your attorney for personal care.
  4. Complete a POAPC form.
  5. Have the POAPC form signed and witnessed by two adult individuals.

You can find a POAPC form on the website of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.


What to consider when choosing an attorney for personal care

When choosing an attorney for personal care, it is crucial to consider the following factors:

  • Trust: Choose someone you trust to make decisions in your best interests.
  • Values: Choose someone who shares your values and beliefs.
  • Availability: Choose someone available to decide on your behalf if needed.
  • Ability: Choose someone who can make complex healthcare decisions and personal well-being decisions.

It is also essential to consider whether you want multiple attorneys for personal care. This is known as a "joint and several" POAPC. If you have more than one attorney for personal care, all of them will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.

What to include in your POAPC

In addition to appointing an attorney for personal care, you can include specific instructions in your POAPC. These instructions can be about your healthcare preferences, living arrangements, or other personal matters.

For example, you could include instructions about:

  • Whether you want to be resuscitated if you go into cardiac arrest
  • If you wish to donate your organs
  • If you wish to be placed in a nursing home
  • Who you want to visit you while you are in the hospital

It is essential to be as specific as possible in your instructions. This will help your attorney for personal care to make decisions consistent with your wishes.

Reviewing and updating your POAPC

It is necessary to review and update your POAPC regularly. This is especially important if your circumstances change, such as getting married, divorced, or having children.

You can also revoke your POAPC anytime if you are mentally capable. To withdraw your POAPC, you must notify your attorney for personal care in writing. You should also file a copy of the revocation with the Ontario Registrar of Personal Property.

The benefits of seeking legal help

While it is possible to create a POAPC on your own, it is absolutely critical to seek legal help from an experienced lawyer. By teaming up with knowledgeable lawyers at Tabuchi Law, you can confidently navigate this process and establish a sound framework for the future. A lawyer can help you to:

  • Ensure that your POAPC is legally compliant and enforceable.
  • Understand the full implications of the POAPC.
  • Make sure your POAPC is tailored to your needs and circumstances.
  • Avoid potential disputes or complications in the future.

Examples of personal care decisions

Here are some examples of personal care decisions that your attorney for personal care may need to make on your behalf:

  • Whether to consent to medical treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy
  • Where you live, such as in a nursing home or with family
  • Who you spend time with, such as friends and family members
  • What you eat and wear
  • How your finances are managed
  • Whether to consent to medical treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy
  • Where you live, such as in a nursing home or with family
  • Who you spend time with, such as friends and family members
  • What you eat and wear
  • How your finances are managed
  • Whether you want to be resuscitated if you go into cardiac arrest
  • If you wish to donate your organs
  • Whether you want to be placed in a nursing home
  • Who do you want to visit you while you are in the hospital
  • If you wish to continue living at home with assistance or move into a long-term care facility
  • If you wish to receive palliative care or life-sustaining treatment
  • What kind of religious or spiritual care would you like to receive
  • How your personal property should be distributed after your death

Your attorney for personal care may also need to make decisions about your care, such as:

  • What kind of clothes you want to wear
  • What type of food you want to eat
  • What activities do you want to participate in
  • How you want to spend your free time
  • Who do you want to communicate with

It is important to note that your attorney for personal care is legally bound to act in your best interests. This means they must consider your wishes and values when making decisions on your behalf, even if those decisions differ from what they would do for themselves.


How to choose an attorney for personal care

When choosing an attorney for personal care, it is vital to consider the following factors:

  • Trust: Choose someone you trust to make decisions in your best interests.
  • Values: Choose someone who shares your values and beliefs.
  • Availability: Choose someone available to decide on your behalf if needed.
  • Ability: Choose someone who can make complex healthcare decisions and personal well-being decisions.
  • Familiarity with your situation: Choose someone with your medical history, personal preferences, and family situation.

It is also essential to consider whether you want multiple attorneys for personal care. This is known as a "joint and several" POAPC. If you have more than one attorney for personal care, all of them will have the authority to make decisions on your behalf.


Tips for discussing your POAPC with your attorney for personal care

Once you have chosen an attorney for personal care, it is necessary to discuss your wishes and values with them. This discussion can be challenging, but being as honest and open as possible is essential.

Here are some tips for discussing your POAPC with your attorney for personal care:

  • Start by talking about your general values and beliefs. This will help your attorney understand what is important to you and how you would want to be treated if you could not decide for yourself.
  • Be specific about your healthcare preferences. Do you have any particular treatments or procedures that you want to avoid? Are there any treatments or procedures you would only want under certain circumstances?
  • Talk about your personal preferences. Where do you want to live? Who do you want to spend time with? What activities do you want to participate in?
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't understand something, ask your attorney to explain it.

It is also essential to review your POAPC with your attorney regularly. This will help to ensure that your POAPC still reflects your current wishes and values.


Conclusion

Creating a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC) is essential in estate planning. It allows you to ensure your wishes will be respected, even if you cannot express them yourself. Knowing that someone you trust makes decisions on your behalf also gives you peace of mind.

If you are considering creating a POAPC, seeking legal help from experienced lawyers like ours at Tabuchi Law is necessary. A lawyer can help you draft a POAPC tailored to your needs and circumstances and comply with all applicable laws.

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