A series of brochures have been prepared jointly by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Seniors Forum. The Forum is an intergovernmental body established to share information, discuss new and emerging issues related to seniors, and work collaboratively on key projects.
They have created eight brochures: Financial Planning, Income and benefits from government programs, Managing and protecting their assets, Planning for possible loss of independence, Planning for their future housing needs, Having a will and making funeral plans, Financial abuse, and Frauds and scams. They are available at a Service Canada office, on the website www.seniors.gc.ca or by calling 1-800-622-6232.
Following is some information taken from the brochure on Planning for Possible Loss of Independence. This information is from 2010 and is for guidance only. It is the seniors’ responsibility to ensure that all of the information is current and accurate for their needs and where they live.
For many seniors the simplest thing is to make an enduring power of attorney, which in some places is called a continuing power of attorney. This is a legal document in which the seniors name one or more people to be their “attorney” to manage their financial affairs. This document can be used by their decision-maker to manage financial affairs even if the seniors become incapable. Making an enduring power of attorney is only a good plan if there is someone the seniors can trust to look after their affairs if they can no longer look after them themselves.
This makes it clear who will be responsible for the seniors’ financial affairs and it saves the difficulty and also the cost of making a family member or close friend go to court to get appointed as the decision-maker. It also avoids the need to involve the Public Guardian and Trustee. For seniors who have no suitable family or friends, however, the Public Trustee can be very helpful and the fees are affordable.
It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer about making an enduring power of attorney (except in the Yukon, where it is always necessary). Because it is a very powerful legal document, it may be helpful to have a lawyer assist, to ensure the seniors understand its risks and benefits.
In some situations, the seniors can appoint a trust company to deal with some or all of their financial affairs. The seniors may also be able to appoint the Public Trustee of their province or territory.
If the seniors become incapable of making decisions for them-selves, there are laws in every province and territory that allow the court to appoint a decision-maker for them. The court can also appoint a new decision-maker if the person the seniors appointed dies or is unable to act.
There are laws in Canada that allow people close to the seniors to make health care decisions for them if they cannot make them them-selves. In some provinces and territories the seniors can make a legal document naming someone to help them make health care decisions.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.