What is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a written document in which you give another person (your “Attorney”) the authority to make decisions regarding your personal care (which includes health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene or safety) in the event that you subsequently are unable to make these decisions on your own behalf.
This is a separate document from a Power of Attorney for Property and many people erroneously think that if they have signed a Power of Attorney for Property that it carries with it the authority for their attorney or attorneys to look after their personal care.
Why should I have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
This type of Power of Attorney enables you to take control of your future medical and personal care in the event that you are no longer able to make such decisions. You should choose as your Attorney someone familiar with your situation and more importantly someone familiar with your wishes in order that you have the assurance of knowing that the best decisions will be made on your behalf.
What are some of questions I should consider when choosing my Attorney?
When choosing your Attorney, be sure to consider the following:
1. Are you close to the person you are considering?
If you are married and your spouse is able, then he or she is the most likely choice. If not, then another close family member such as a sibling or an adult child could be another candidate to consider.
2. Can you rely on the person you are considering to act properly and make decisions on your behalf, which you would approve of if able to do so?
In the case of an Attorney for Personal Care, you should be confident that the person is both reliable and sensitive to handling the extremely difficult and often agonizing decisions involved in dealing with critical or terminal illness (and palliative care).
3. What is the distance between you and the person you are considering?
For reasons of convenience, it is preferable to have your Attorney live nearby rather than on the other side of the province or country.
4. Can I appoint more than one person to act as my Attorney?
Yes, you can have more than one Attorney, for a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. If you choose more than one person you can determine whether they must make decisions together in agreement with one another (that is ”jointly”) or whether any one of the persons chosen will be entitled to make decisions with or without the approval of the other(s) (that is “severally”). Where you choose only one attorney it is advisable to select a second person to serve as a substitute in the event that the first person chosen is unable to act as your Attorney for any reason.