Resource Centre: Complete Guide to Powers of Attorney

Power of Attorney for Personal Care

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A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a written document in which you give someone the power to make decisions about your personal care should you become unable to make these decisions yourself.

The power of attorney for personal care responsibilities can include your health care, medical treatment, diet, housing, clothing, hygiene, and safety. Although the person you give this power to is called your “attorney,” it does not mean that they are your lawyer. Usually your attorney is your spouse, a relative or a close friend. 

Who can be Appointed as an Attorney?

The individual you appoint must satisfy the following requirements in order to be legally eligible to be your power of attorney. They must: 

-    Be 16 years of age or older,
-    Be mentally competent,
-    Not be paid to provide you with health care, residential, social, training, or support services. If a person is being paid to provide you with any of these services, they can only be your attorney if they are also your spouse, common-law spouse, partner, or relative.

It’s important to note that you’re giving your power of attorney a significant breadth of power and freedom to make decisions in your steed. For that reason, you should choose someone you know well, and can trust to make decisions according to your instruction. Additionally, you should always make sure to discuss the decision with the individual you’d like to elect, and take the opportunity to discuss the role, the responsibilities, your wishes, and whether they would be comfortable taking on such a role.

For the power of attorney for personal care to be legally valid and binding, the document must be:
-    In writing and,
-    Signed by you in the presence of two witnesses.

Who cannot witness my Power of Attorney?

The following people are not eligible to act as a witness:
-    Spouse, common-law partner, child or someone you treat as your child.
-    Your attorney, or your spouse’s / partner’s attorney.
-    Anyone who has been appointed a “guardian of property” by the court due to their inability to manage their own property.
-    Anyone who has been appointed a “guardian of the person” by the court due to their inability to make their own personal care decisions
-    Anyone under the age of majority in your province or territory.

Continuing / Enduring Powering of Attorney

Generally, a power of attorney ends immediately if you become mentally incapable. Creating a continuing power of attorney will allow your appointed attorney to continue to act in your steed in the circumstance you are unable to make decisions on your own due to disease, injury or for whatever other reason you’ve been incapacitated.

Power of Attorney Risks

When you decide to appoint a power of attorney, you give them broad decision-making powers over sensitive aspects of your day-to-day life. WillsKeeper encourages taking careful consideration of who you choose, it is essential to make sure they will make decisions with your best interest in mind. While it remains true that they must act with your best interest in mind by law, as well as exercise the care and skill of a reasonably prudent person, that does not mean that the power extended to them cannot be abused. To give yourself some protection you can limit the power given to the power of attorney that only allows them to complete certain tasks within a specific time frame.

It’s important to note that due to the different requirements across Canada, a power of attorney in one province may not be valid in other provinces, unless a legislation exists recognizing it as such. If your moving provinces, it’s always good practice to update your power of attorney accordingly.

Get Started with WillsKeeper Today and Get Your Power of Attorney Documents Ready.