Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship


Written on October 27, 2014 – 6:05 am | by Audrey Miller

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has undertaken a project to examine and review Ontario’s laws related to legal capacity, decision –making and guardianship. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending one of their focus groups. Spokespersons from various groups were there representing those with autism, mental health issues and the hearing impaired, to name a few.

While the disability groups may have different issues, there was more in common than not.
The key areas included issues regarding protecting and enhancing autonomy, who can act as a substitute decision maker; preventing and addressing abuse or misuse of powers of attorney; supports to access the law as well as larger issues relating to lack of information and understanding and system monitoring, transparency and dispute resolution.

In my work with seniors and their families, the same issues apply. We are dealing with clients who may or may not be capable and their Powers of Attorney who hold the title but may not understand the implications. It is complicated.

However as more and more of us are living longer and with so many health issues that can compromise ability in communication and in making decisions, it is a needed and necessary project. I am glad to have had an opportunity to participate and I look forward to reading their recommendations.

For more information, please visit the LCO’s website at http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/older-adults-final-report-framework and http://www.lco-cdo.org/en/disabilities-final-report.

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    Elder Care Planning


    Written on October 24, 2014 – 6:00 am | by Jasmine Sweatman

    A recent Ipsos-Reid report found older Canadians lack confidence in the health-care system’s ability to provide for seniors in the future. With the aging population and strains on the various government systems and agencies for seniors, elder care planning is becoming more crucial.

    The shift in the demographics of our society into an aged population will put additional strain on our health care system and our caregivers.

    Most individuals as they age will require services or equipment that are not covered by an government programs or subsidies. Planning and saving to pay these expenses while healthy is important and even the best laid plans can go awry as costs escalate unexpectedly.

    In Canada Long Term Care Insurance helps pay for the cost of care expenses as people age and is relatively new in Canada. The insurance is now becoming popular, although, depending on the policy, to pay for private home care, medical supplies, institutional care, adaptive devices, physiotherapy, a family member providing care among other things.

    Various insurance companies offer these policies and the range of benefits under the policy vary. This type of insurance is something clients may want to consider and something we as estate planners should consider in our discussions with clients.

    Until next time,

    Jasmine Sweatman/Leigh Sands

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      Elder Abuse – helping to spread the word


      Written on October 23, 2014 – 5:32 am | by Elaine Blades

      I recently had the pleasure of presenting to a group of seniors on the topic of Elder Abuse. The event was organized by the Sunshine Group of Seniors, part of the San Romanoway Revitalization Association. I presented along with Police Constable Amir Butt of 31 Division.

      P.C. Butt explained that there are four different types of elder abuse: physical; psychological or emotional; financial; and, neglect. He explained that neglect comes in three forms: self-neglect; “innocent’ or “non-deliberate” neglect by a caregiver; and, deliberate neglect by a caregiver. My presentation focused on the importance of planning (preparing Wills and Powers of Attorney and ensuring you appoint an honest and trustworthy individual(s) as executor and substitute decision maker) as one important way to help protect yourself from financial – and perhaps other forms of – abuse.  (As was demonstrated later in the morning, what may start as financial abuse, can quickly escalate into a situation of physical abuse and/or neglect).  I concluded by explaining the potential dangers of taking the “joint account shortcut” to estate planning.

      The seniors were a lively and engaged group. The morning began with a welcome song and concluded with a thank you song.

      The highlight of the session was the performance staged by the seniors themselves. They performed two skits which graphically displayed what elder abuse can look like. In my opinion, these skits did as much to illustrate elder abuse issues as the two more formal presentations combined.  The skits brought to life what Police Constable Butt and I were saying.

      Towards the end, four seniors were invited to share a “saying from home” followed by the English translation.  One lovely lady recited a saying which I think will resonate with many readers who deal in “estates” and elder care:

      “The mother can look after 10 children; 10 children can’t look after one mother”.

      Both the skits and these sayings helped raise awareness of this important issue and I’d like to commend the Sunshine Group for their efforts. 

      Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the morning’s grande finale:  a  “hot cultural lunch”, featuring Caribbean and South Asian foods. Everything was delicious!

      Thanks for reading.

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