Powers of Attorney

Information on financial powers of attorney and advanced health care directives.

Caring for Aging Parents: Are You Prepared?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Health Emergencies, Planning, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

Originally published on June 24, 2011 at www.brighterlife.ca   When Iola Pryma was told she needed to have a lung biopsy to investigate the tumours a CT scan revealed, one of the first things she did was make her daughter, Kandis Pryma, her power of attorney for her finances. A 71-year-old widow, Pryma knew that in the event of a long recovery — or worse — she would feel much better checking into the hospital knowing that her finances were in order. This family was lucky. In their case, the parent was able to make this decision on her own and to guide her daughter through her financial portfolio and banking information without suspicion or embarrassment.  But many families aren’t so lucky, says Mara Osis, president of ElderWise, a Calgary-based company that coaches families on topics relating to aging parents.   Read the complete article:...

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The Vulture Generation

Posted by on Mar 1, 2012 in Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

Originally published December 2010, Reader’s Digest magazine.  Copyright (c) 2010 by Reader’s Magazines Canada Limited. Further reproduction or distribution strictly prohibited. Reprinted with permission. The elderly and infirm routinely delegate control of their finances to family members but more and more Canadians are abusing that power. Can our aging population trust its own children? BY RISHA GOTLIEB On June 24, 2007, Tony Budkowski got an unexpected call from his mother’s nursing home in Oshawa. The home’s regular contact was Tony’s sister, Heather, but according to the administrator, Heather had left the country. “Instantly, I realized something was amiss,” says Budkowski. “Why didn’t my sister want me to know she’d be away and unavailable to help our mother?” He also learned the nursing-home fees had gone unpaid for eight months. “I knew my mother had enough to cover her bills, and my sister, who had been given power of attorney to pay these bills, had full access to Mom’s bank accounts.”  Budkowski started to investigate, but was stymied when he tried to obtain his mother’s banking records. He turned to the Durham Regional Police for assistance. Luckily, his file ended up in the hands of Sgt. John Keating, who Budkowski says is “very passionate” about protecting the vulnerable and the elderly. With Keating’s help, he eventually got the bank to hand over the records. “My sister had made off with our mother’s life savings, leaving her with $270.” Keating arrested the sister, and on June 10, 2008, she was sentenced to two years house arrest and three years probation, and was ordered to repay $92,000. This, says Keating, is one of the harshest convictions ever seen in Ontario’s Durham Region for abuse involving power of attorney (POA). Budkowski’s mother had Alzheimer’s. Her death earlier this year, at the age of 95, left unanswered questions about her POA document. “Did my mother know what she was signing?” asks Budkowski. “Or was it even her hand that signed it? I have my suspicions.” POA abuse stories are surfacing in every community across Canada. The Canadian government estimates that as many as ten percent of seniors are affected. “And financial abuse involving powers of attorney is the most rampant,” says Laura Watts, national director of the Canadian Centre for Elder Law in Vancouver. “Abuses are grossly under-reported. Victims are reluctant to come forward if the exploiter is a family member, due to feelings of shame, fear of exposure and even fear of being denied access to grandkids.” The situation—which Watts describes as “a national crisis”—is forcing legislators, the courts and police to re-evaluate their responses to reports of POA misuse. “I’ve heard over and over from seniors who have taken their complaints to police, only to be told this is a civil matter,” says Brian Trainor, a retired Saskatoon police officer and one of the first in Canada to investigate POA abuse cases. Keating has heard similar complaints, and maintains that a change is necessary. “The whole system needs to be revamped,” he says. “We need to start recognizing theft by POA for what it really is: a crime.” A power of attorney is a document that legally appoints  one individual (the “attorney”) to act on another’s behalf. Each province has its own POA legislation and terminology, but generally speaking, there are two types of POAs: those that grant authority to manage assets and those that cover personal care. For a POA that grants authority to manage assets, you can decide whether you want it to be continuing or noncontinuing. A continuing POA will stay in effect even if you become mentally incapable,...

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Living Will: Every Adult Needs One!

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

Accidents and other types of life-threatening illnesses can occur at any age. Being prepared is vital to getting the care that you need and want…but there is one vital preparation that many of us overlook. In case of a serious, life-threatening event – whether injury or illness – a written Advance Health Directive or Personal Care Directive , sometimes known as a “living will”, outlines your wishes about medical treatment in the event that you cannot express them. It includes your instructions and identifies who will speak on your behalf. Anyone over the age of 18 can and should complete a personal health care directive, and it can be made with or without the assistance of a lawyer. Here are the steps to putting a directive in place: 1.    Research the information that applies to your province. Start with your local health authority, and also refer to the Office of the Public Guardian for your province. 2.    Discuss your options with your family doctor. 3.    Inform your family/friends about your wishes. 4.    Decide who will speak on your behalf – and get their consent. 5.    Write the directive yourself or seek help from a lawyer. 6.    Provide copies to your family, your lawyer, your physician, and the person acting on your behalf. Your directive becomes a legal document once it is signed, dated, and witnessed. For your own sake – and your family’s – resolve to get started today!   Terminology and other important aspects of health care directives vary by province. The ElderWise e-guide, Decide for Yourself, can provide more insight and direction.   Vol.2, No.4; © ElderWise Inc., 2006 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning.  Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter....

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A Surprise Call From The Hospital

Posted by on Feb 23, 2011 in Health Care Team and System, Health Emergencies, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

John’s aging parent,  Mary, 90, lives in another province. One day, he gets the call he has long dreaded: his mother has fallen, broken her wrist, and has been taken by ambulance to the hospital.  She has had surgery and her arm is in a cast. Is she ready to go home? Not so fast.  John is told that his mother is showing signs of mild cognitive impairment and that the discharge planner wants an assessment. John must call the doctor for more information. John manages to talk to the doctor later that day. He learns that Mary is doing very well physically, but the doctor is concerned about the possibility of dementia and has referred her to the Geriatric Team.  John asks if he should take time off work and come. The doctor advises him to wait a few days until the outcome of the assessment. During the next few days, John calls the hospital for updates. He talks to: the Registered Nurse on the unit; the Head Nurse on the unit; the Relief Nurse on shift; and the Discharge Planner. John is confused. Some of these professionals believe that Mary has signs of dementia while others are not sure. The discharge planner is concerned that Mary may not be safe to return home; John worries, because Mom has refused previous attempts to talk about moving to assisted living. Later, John hears from the Geriatric Case Manager that, for now, they have not confirmed dementia. His mother had delirium because of the injury, pain, unfamiliar environment and anxiety. Mary is moved to a transition unit.  Soon after, Mary calls John to tell him that she is discharged and will get home care. John wonders if she will accept strangers coming into her house because she has refused previous offers of household help. John takes a week’s vacation time and goes to help his mother. During his time there, he meets: the community care (home care) coordinator; the home care nurse; a home health aide; the transition coordinator; the geriatric case manager; and an occupational therapist. Collectively, they offer the following advice: Arrange for Meals on Wheels Make changes for safety at home: get a bathroom grab bar; remove scatter rugs; add a night light; get Mary an emergency response system Mary should accept home care services for help with bathing John should get Power of Attorney to look after Mary’s finances Mary should write a Personal Health Care Directive John is told that they will follow-up to monitor his mother’s safety at home. If she is not safe, the team will encourage her to move into assisted living.  John returns home and stays in daily phone contact with his mother. Contacting the health care professionals is difficult, given time zone differences and work schedules. They encourage him to talk to his mother so she can keep him up to date. But John senses that Mary is avoiding detailed questions. He assumes that she wants to appear to be doing well so that she can stay at home instead of living in a care home. Who am I supposed to talk to? How do I reconcile different opinions from the various professionals? Why is the medical team so guarded about what to tell me? When should I go help my mother – right away or when she is discharged? Will I have enough warning to arrange vacation time and travel? Why is Mom moving to another unit in the hospital? What is her diagnosis? What will she need from now on? On the medical team, who is responsible for what? Why are so many people involved? John finds out...

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Every Adult Needs These Two Legal Documents

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Planning, Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

This is a true story of a family that did not have legal documents and a plan in place before a sudden health crisis:     Delia (not her real name), a 90-year old widow, has lived alone in her home for many years. Friends and family admire her independence.  A private person, Delia proudly manages her own affairs. She believes she will continue on this way until “something happens to me”.  Her children have asked her to talk to her lawyer about Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive but she dismisses their advice. Then, Delia suffers a serious stroke and is admitted to hospital. The doctors discuss her competency and decide that she lacks the capacity to make decisions regarding her health and property. The family is told that Delia needs the professional care provided in a long-term care home.   At the long-term care centre, the family is asked to make decisions regarding level of care. Do they want a “Do Not Resuscitate” order if their mother has serious complications or develops a life-threatening illness? The family is not sure: one daughter says, “Mom would want everything done because she has always faced life head on”. But another sibling argues that “Mom would never want to continue living without her independence.”  Delia’s advance health care directive would have contained her wishes in writing. To pay the care home fees and her other debts, the family realizes that Mom’s home must be sold.  Their realtor informs them that they do not have the legal right to sell the home. Delia needs to sign the agreement – but cannot do so.       Family members also notice that other care centre residents have additional support from private companions and personal care aides. They decide that enhanced services would be a good idea for Mom, too. They go to the bank, where they are informed that, without a power of attorney, they cannot have access to Delia’s accounts. They must now apply for guardianship. They are also advised to contact a lawyer specializing in Elder Law.       For the reasons outlined above, all adults – but especially seniors – need to have a Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive. No one wants to imagine circumstances where they might have to give up control over financial and care decisions. But serious illness or accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Preparing these two documents can spare your loved ones anguish and ensure that your wishes are respected.   For more insight and comprehensive Canadian resources,  consult the ElderWise e-guide,  Decide For Yourself: Why You Must Write Your POA and Advance Directive, available in our online store. © ElderWise, 2010. Vol. 6, No. 7 You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter....

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Definitions for POA and Health Care Directives

Posted by on Sep 8, 2010 in Planning, Power of Attorney, Powers of Attorney | 0 comments

There are two types of “power of attorney”: one for finances and one for decisions about health and personal care. Both documents are drawn up by a person with “capacity”, i.e. the ability to make reasoned decisions, who wants to decide on his or her wishes for future medical care and treatment and personal care – in the event they are not able to give informed consent. This document is also known as a living will or health care directive may, and may contain or include: Appointment of a “proxy” who will assume responsibility for ensuring the person’s wishes are respected Health and personal care wishes that must be followed by health care providers, where the wishes are reasonable, possible, and legal. The first type is called a proxy directive. All provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories allow proxy directives.The second type is called an instructional directive.  Several provinces allow this type of directive, as well as the proxy directive. Why have a directive? Manitoba Health provides this general suggestion for writing a health care directive, or “living will.” “Due to accident or illness, you may become unable to say or show what treatment you would like, and under what conditions. If you have signed a directive, those close to you and the health care professionals treating you are relieved of the burden of guessing what your wishes might be.”  Each province has specific legislation regarding health care directives. The ElderWise Guide, “Decide For Yourself”, provides web links to the specific details for each Canadian province and territory. You must comply with the legislation in your parent’s province if the directive is being prepared for them. Here is a scenario that is all too common for families who do not have advance care planning in place (names changed to protect privacy):  Clarence was 87 years old and had not named anyone to speak on his behalf. When his niece raised the topic, he said: “You’ll be there for me – and I know you will do the right thing.” But when Clarence had a stroke and was temporarily in a coma, his niece was unable to legally speak on his behalf because she had not been specifically named as Clarence’s personal representative.  Research the information that applies to your province (“Decide for Yourself” includes web resources for all provinces and territories). Discuss medical treatments, such as a “Do Not Resuscitate” order, with your doctor. Decide who will speak on your behalf AND get their consent. Write the directive yourself – or get help from a lawyer. Provide copies of the directive to your family, your doctor, and the person(s) named in the directive. Get full details about the contents of “Decide for Yourself”     Vol. 5, No. 8 © ElderWise Publishing 2009. You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO article, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise, Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at http://elderwise.memwebs.com/ and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.   ...

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