This blog was written by Sally Lee, LLB – Estate and Trust Consultant with Scotia Wealth Management
Recently, I met a prospective client (let’s call her Jane) who told me she did not have anyone to appoint as her attorney for personal care. It appeared that this issue was the barrier to the rest of her estate planning because she had “no one”. As her investment advisor and I began to do a deeper dive of the situation, she did have a couple of people. Actually, more than a couple. Jane also had a niece and a nephew who were sort of estranged from her and their religious beliefs were opposed to her care wishes. She also had a couple of friends she could ask. Now setting aside the fact that she has substitute decision makers, the challenge with the two friends were: 1) age – both were over the age of 65; and 2) potential refusal act to act.
I am pretty sure Jane is not alone here and this kind of a situation impacts many individuals out there. So what can be done? Well, Jane and I discussed appointing one or both of the friends as her attorney(s) for care. Given that Jane had very specific instructions regarding her care, the power of attorney for personal care would be tailored to her specifications. I suggested to Jane that while she is still healthy and capable, she, along with her attorney for care, meet with a care service provider (who could act as agent on behalf of the attorney for care) to work out what her care services would be in circumstances X, Y or Z. Basically, Jane was pre-arranging her care needs.
What Jane did not realize is that she is very fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to pre-arrange for care given her financial status – if she were to proceed, Jane would be taking control of her future care planning. What is the alternative? To leave care decision making in the hands of substitute decision makers whose views were opposed to hers.