SERVICES - POWERS OF ATTORNEY

AND YOU THOUGHT YOU DIDN'T NEED ONE!

Three unfortunate situations as related to me by clients over the past few years could have been avoided completely, had the victims taken the time to have a Power of Attorney executed.

In the first instance an elderly gentleman who suffered from partial Alzheimer's went to his doctor for his annual physical examination. A short time thereafter the elderly gentleman's wife received a call from the Ontario Government who advised the woman to arrange to have her husband dressed and at the door and ready to be taken to an institution. A government ambulance arrived on schedule and took the gentleman away. Apparently the doctor, as he is obliged to do, advised the government of the gentleman's incapabilities whereupon the government appointed itself as caregiver since it was the doctor's opinion that this man was unable to give essential instructions as to his own health care. The saddest part of all of this was that the wife ended up having to sell the home in which they had lived for over fifty years in order to pay the monthly expenses at the institution where the husband was relocated.

In the second instance a woman went into a coma and it ended up that a Hearing had to be held at great expense to the family in order to have the husband appointed as Substitute Decision Maker for her so that he could then instruct the doctors to proceed to conduct the necessary operations.

In the third instance a wealthy gentleman had been on life support for several months. During that time his wife, who was residing in the matrimonial home, continued to receive letters from the mortgagee indicating that the mortgage was in default. Ultimately the mortgagee ended up selling the house under Power of Sale Proceedings.

In all three of these unfortunate situations, the victims could have easily avoided the end result had they only taken the precaution of having Powers of Attorney prepared.

There are two types of Powers of Attorney, one for Property and the other for Personal Care Decisions. The Power of Attorney for Property permits the named Attorney among other things to pay bills, make bank deposits, sign cheques, deeds, etc. and to generally manage one's property and finances. The Power of Attorney for Personal Care Decisions permits the appointee to make any and all decisions with respect to the health care, shelter and safety of the person who appointed him as Attorney.

Generally, people make Wills in order to prevent the Government from dictating how their estates are to be divided upon death. It is now equally important to appoint an "Attorney" to manage your property and finances and to make personal care decisions for you during your lifetime, in the event that you become incapable, again to prevent the Government from making these decisions for you.