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Powers of Attorney & Living Wills

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.

Three kinds of Power of Attorney include:

  • A Continuing Power of Attorney that covers your financial affairs 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. If you need someone to look after your financial transactions while you’re away from home and unable to attend to them yourself, you might you this Power of Attorney.
  • A Power of Attorney for Personal Care covers your personal decisions, such as housing and health care.

The term “attorney” refers to the person or persons you have chosen to act on your behalf. He or she does not have to be a lawyer.

The expression Living Will or Health Care Directive are terms used to refer to a document in which you describe what you want to happen if you become ill and can’t communicate your wishes about treatment. Some people 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.

A living will is not the same as a Power of Attorney which is a legal document in which you name a specific person to act on your behalf. However, your treatment wishes (your “living will”) can be included 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.

A Power of Attorney and a Living Will are not the same as your Last Will and Testament. These two documents only apply while you still alive and they cease to apply upon your death. Your Last Will and Testament, on the other hand, only takes effect upon your death.

Typically there is no requirement that these documents be registered. 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.

For more information on powers of attorney, living wills and health care directives consult your family lawyer. Alternatively you can create your own documents using forms created by www.lawdepot.ca