(including CONTINUING POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR PROPERTY and POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR PERSONAL CARE)
Most people do not want to think about what might happen if they cannot state their wishes in the event of illness or accidents.
Choosing people to act for you when you cannot is a serious matter; by doing this you give them a great deal of authority.
In Ontario, people may choose the individuals who may make decisions for them if they cannot make their own decisions by executing a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and/or a Power of Attorney for Personal Care.
It is strongly advised that people make Powers of Attorney when they are capable of doing so because it enables them to choose the people they trust. If this is not done, it is possible that either the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee or the Courts may need to become involved in order to have decisions made for you if you are not capable of making them.
You may have many people in your life who are significant to you. It is important that everyone understands their role in your life…some as future decision makers, and others who will support you in other ways:
Attorney for Personal Care (Health )
The person (or people) you have appointed to be your Attorney for Personal Care need to understand your values and beliefs regarding health and personal care so that they can make decisions in accordance with your wishes. They cannot make decisions on your behalf that reflect their own values or the values of other well-meaning people. (Read a pamphlet on Power of Attorney from the Attorney General’s Office)
Continuing Attorney for Property (Finances)
The person (or people) you have appointed to be your Continuing Attorney for Property (finances) need to know how to find the important documents and understand your finances so that they can act quickly to pay your bills, mortgage, school fees etc. if you cannot do so. (Read a pamphlet on Power of Attorney from the Attorney General’s Office).
The Other Significant People in your life to whom you have not given Power of Attorney
A conversation with the other significant people in your life is recommended to help them to understand why you have chosen certain people and not them to act for you when you no longer are able to. In some instances, family members or friends may expect that you would want them to act as your decision maker. Once they know their roles and your choices, they can support you during your time of need.
STEP 1 – GOOD PLANNING
• Help you to identify who you would want to act for you if you are no longer able to; this may involve choosing a person(s) who will act as your Attorney for Personal Care (health decisions) and Continuing Attorney for Property (financial decisions).
• Help you to identify significant people in your life with whom you want to discuss these choices. Choosing people to act for you when you cannot is a serious matter; by doing this you give them a great deal of authority. Some of your family members or friends may be better at helping with health issues; others may be better at finances.
• Help you to be clear about your decisions surrounding future health care and financial decisions.
• Refer you to other resources to get additional information or help. If counselling is needed, Communicating Matters will provide information about other resources to people who request help.
STEP 2 – PREPARE YOU FOR THE CONVERSATION(S)
TALKING TO YOUR POWER OF ATTORNEY
• Plan a conversation between you and those who you have chosen to act for you when you no longer can so that your wishes and choices are clearly articulated and understood so that those you have appointed agree that they will act on your behalf if and when that need arises.
TALKING TO OTHERS WHO ARE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU
- Help you to be clear about what you want to share about your choices related to your power of attorney for personal care and continuing power of attorney for property. This may mean helping you identify what you want to say to each significant person in your life and how you might most effectively communicate with them.
- Help you anticipate the communication and relationship dynamics with the important people in your life.
STEP 3 – FACILITATE THE CONVERSATION(S)
- Create an open meeting environment with some rules and boundaries so that you can talk about and share the information that you wish to.
- Facilitate the conversation(s) so that you can clearly share your information in a way that can be heard by others during times of anxiety and stress.
- Support you in responding to the reactions and emotions of the people who are important to you as they hear what you are saying.