My colleague Dr. Shulman in his July 30, 2019 blog “What an Attorney for Personal Care Can Do” described the roles of the substitute decision maker and the very important part they play in ensuring their loved one’s wellbeing. I have used ‘loved one’ but actually in many cases, the individual chosen is not a family member and love may not be part of the equation at all. It is a very big responsibility to become someone else’s decision maker and many times, some very tough decisions are required. I think the duties that are stipulated in the SDA act should be shared prior to someone agreeing to be another’s attorney for personal care (and property as well). I have always stated that the care decision should dictate what is needed first and foremost and it needs to be supported by the attorney for property. For example, the individual requires care (decision #1); how much care and how much money there is available to pay for said care is decision # 2.
I am now working with a single women who never married, has no close friends and has some relatives who live out of town. She had appointed these relatives to be her attorney for care. Fortunately, she had the foresight to have chosen a trust company to be her attorney for property. They now need to work together to decide how much care she can actually afford. At over $25,000 a month for the care that is currently in place, it cannot be sustained for very long. The attorney for care now needs to explore alternate care and living accommodations as her monies cannot sustain that monthly expenditure indefinitely. Not an easy decision to make for extended family members who don’t live in the same city and have had limited contact with their relative. Fortunately, they now have our firm’s guidance to help them understand their choices and explore alternatives and costs so that this lady’s quality of life can be maintained and she can continue to get the care that she needs.