Your legacy is important, Protect it with a Power of Attorney:
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give someone you trust (called your “attorney”) the right to make decisions for you if something happens and you are no longer able to look after matters on your own.
There are two types of Power of Attorney:
Power of Attorney for Personal Care – the person you name can make decisions about your health care, housing and other aspects of your personal life (such as meals and clothing) if you become mentally incapable of making these decisions.
Power of Attorney for Property – the person you name can make decisions about your financial affairs (including paying your bills, collecting money owed to you, maintaining or selling your house, or managing your investments).
Legacy Wills always recommends you designate a Power of Attorney. If something happens to you and you don’t have one, other arrangements will have to be made. A family member may have the right to make certain personal care decisions, and can apply to become the guardian of your property. Alternatively, someone else — like a close friend — could apply to the court to be authorized to act for you.
If no suitable person is available, the government may have to step in, through the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
To sign a power of attorney you must be considered mentally capable.
To be considered mentally capable of giving a power of attorney for personal care, it must be clear that you understand the need to choose someone with genuine concern for your welfare, and that there may be a need for that person to make personal care decisions for you.
To be considered mentally capable of giving a power of attorney for property, it must be clear that:
you know about your assets (what you own, what they’re worth)
you are aware of your obligations to your dependents, and
you understand the authority and power you are giving to the person holding Power of Attorney.
Your good judgment is key to choosing a trustworthy person for this important responsibility.
The person you choose as your power of attorney for personal care must be at least 16 years old. For a power of attorney for property, the person must be at least 18 years old.
Anyone given power of attorney must be considered mentally capable when they are appointed.
Choosing your attorney for personal care
The person you decide to appoint as your attorney for personal care should be someone you trust to make decisions about your housing, food, health, safety, hygiene and clothing. This could be a family member or a close friend. Talk to the person and make sure that he or she is willing to take on this responsibility if needed.
Certain people are not allowed to be your attorney. Do not name any of the following people if they are paid (by you or someone else) to provide services to you, unless that person is also a family member:
any person who provides care for you in the place where you live
your social worker, counselor, teacher
your doctor, nurse, therapist, or other health care provider
your homemaker or attendant
Important legal note: unless your power of attorney says otherwise:
An attorney for personal care is only allowed to make medical or long-term care decisions if a medical professional or evaluator finds you mentally incapable of making the specific decision.
For all other types of personal care decisions, the attorney can step in if they believe you are incapable — no assessment is required.