Tel: 416 767-CASS (2277)
Fax: 416-491-0273

Garry Cass, ext.207
Assistant: Josie Dobosz, ext. 277

Choosing a Power of Attorney for Personal Care

Choosing your power of attorney for personal care is a challenging but necessary part of estate planning, says Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Garry Cass.He tells that choosing a substitute decision-maker (SDM) to make decisions on your behalf about personal care issues — such as health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and safety — can be unpleasant and uncomfortable to think about. However, it’s the best way to ensure your wishes about personal care will be respected and carried out if you become incapable of making your own decisions.

Cass says when choosing your SDM, it’s key to look at the spectrum of decisions your SDM may have to make on your behalf.

“Power of attorney for personal care has a range of decisions. On one end are the relatively ‘benign’ issues, like shelter, food and clothing,” he says. “In the ‘middle’ is the right to give consent to treatment or withhold consent from treatment.

“Then at the other end are the highly emotional decisions, such as those that determine whether to prolong life (life support) and the right to die with dignity. Almost anybody can deal with shelter, food and clothing. When you get into consent to treatment or end-of-life issues, decisions become more difficult for SDMs,” he says.

Cass says that he regularly meets with clients who have multiple children and either don’t know which child to choose as an SDM, or who want all of their children involved in their personal care decisions.

“When it gets to the end, how do you necessarily know that all of your children are going to be able to agree?” he says. “The only families I’ve seen where everybody is in total agreement about what’s going to happen with regards to end-of-life issues are the ones that unfortunately have actually had to live through it with a loved one.

“I will tell people very candidly, when you are picking a personal care power of attorney, sit down, open a nice bottle of wine, tell somebody exactly what you expect from them and then find out whether that person has the courage of your convictions,” Cass says, “because if not, then he or she is the wrong person.”

© Garry Cass - 2010 - 2015
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