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Getting Your Affairs in Order - Care Plans

You should consider what your wishes will be, should you become incapacitated or are in a vegetative state

Under The Health Care Consent Act, anyone can make a statement of their care wishes.  This is a living will and it will be binding on medical practitioners who are aware of the statement.  Although there is no prescribed form for the statement, it is advisable that it be in writing and that a copy of it be given to your family, your doctor or other caregivers and of course to your Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

A properly executed Power of Attorney for Personal Care can ensure that someone you trust will be making medical treatment decisions for you when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.  The Health Care Consent Act provides that consent may be given on behalf of an incapable person by one of the following persons, in the following order of preference:

• a court appointed guardian of the person;
• the attorney for personal care named under a Power of Attorney for Personal Care;
• a representative appointed by the Consent and Capacity Board given authority by the board to grant consent;
• the incapable persons spouse or partner, where partner includes same-sex partners who have resided together for at least one year;
• a parent;
• a child (over 16 years old)
• a brother or sister, or
• any other relative.

The Act authorizes health care practitioners to provide emergency treatment where consent cannot be obtained from the patient, or from one of the above.  For longer term care decisions, a court appointed guardian may be required unless an attorney has been appointed through a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. 

In Ontario, end of life decisions are set out in a Living Will and you can choose to entrust that these wishes will be carried out by a Power of Attorney for Care,  in the event you cannot speak for yourself.  These are in addition to the financial aspect of retirement - your money and your assets and how they will be dealt with when you die, that is, your will, or Power of Attorney for Property.

You also need to plan for the financing of your personal care.  Discuss your assets with your family or trusted advisors, and determine which ones are available should additional funds be used.  Be sure to include your entire pension income, RRIFs, LIFs, annuities, government pensions, rental income, dividend income and any other monies you receive in your listing.  Should a sudden condition (i.e. traumatic head injury or serious stroke) strike you, your family will be aware of your finances and wishes and be able to handle them on your behalf. 

A Personal Care Plan is a very important component of your Retirement Plan.  Be sure that you have all your documents, instructions and financing in order so that you and your family are prepared should you need to have ongoing assistance and/or medical care.  Good planning will give you peace of mind and you will have made your own choices; no one else will make them for you.  Don’t leave something as important as your personal care to chance.  Be in control of your own destiny.

For more information about Living Wills or Powers of Attorney for Personal Care, contact Larry Enfield, a partner with Enfield Wood LLP, who  has practised estate planning administration since 1977. 

To learn more about Larry Enfield and Enfield Wood LLP, visit the website http://www.enfieldwood.com/

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