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Power of Attorney and Living Wills
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
What does Power of Attorney do and how does this differ from Living Wills?
Source: Ministry of the Attorney General
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.
In Ontario, for example, there are three kinds of Power of Attorney:
- A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property (CPOA) covers your financial affairs and allows the person you name to act for you even if you become mentally incapable.
- A non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property covers your financial affairs but can’t be used if you become mentally incapable. You might give this Power of Attorney, for example, if you need someone to look after your financial transactions while you’re away from home for an extended period of time.
- A Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC) covers your personal decisions, such as housing and health care.
Making a Power of Attorney is voluntary. No one can be forced to make one.
The expression “living will” is sometimes used to refer to a document in which you write down what you want to happen if you become ill and can’t communicate your wishes about treatment. It is quite common, for example, for people to write a “living will” saying that they do not want to be kept alive on artificial life supports if they have no hope of recovery. The term “advance directive” is also frequently used to refer to such a document. Some people use the phrase “proxy directive” to describe a document that combines a Power of Attorney and a “living will”.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you name a specific person to act on your behalf. You can, however, write your treatment wishes (your “living will” or “advance directive”) as part of your Power of Attorney document so that you can be sure your attorney is aware of them. A “living will” just addresses your treatment and personal care wishes and does not need to name anyone or be written in any specific way.
The law does not require you to use a lawyer’s services. However, you may wish to consider hiring a lawyer, especially if your affairs are complicated.
There is no requirement that these documents be registered. The government does not keep a registry. It makes sense, however, to make sure that the people in your life who need to know about these documents – especially your attorney – have a copy or know where to get one if needed.
To find out more about Power Attorney and Living Wills, please click here
to visit the Ministry of the Attorney General's document entitled 'POWERS OF ATTORNEY AND “LIVING WILLS”