In most provinces, legislation allows you to appoint someone you trust, in advance, to make decisions for you if you become mentally incapable. You may apply for a government form, or consult your legal counsel, to give a person of your choice the authority to make decisions about your personal care. This is referred to as a "power of attorney for personal care".
Decisions about personal care involve things such as where you live, what you eat and the kind of medical treatment you receive. The person you appoint may be referred to as your "attorney for personal care". You may appoint more than one attorney if you wish.
You may give your attorney special instructions about the particular kind of care you want, or don't want, in certain situations. Remember, you’re not required to appoint an attorney for personal care. This is your choice.
The power of attorney for personal care is referred to by different terms in different provinces. While Ontario uses the term “power of attorney for personal care”, in Alberta it is called a “personal directive”. Quebec has a mandate encompassing both financial and health care issues. British Columbia has put in place a number of acts to assist individuals, including the Representation Agreement Act (RAA) and the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act (HCCFAA). Otherwise, it is usually referred to as a "health care directive" or an "advanced health care directive". Forms are usually provided free of charge by your provincial government. The document name varies by province.
Giving a power of attorney is a very serious matter. Your attorney may become responsible for profoundly important decisions about your well being and quality of life. If you decide to appoint an attorney for personal care, it’s important that you do so of your own free will, without pressure from anyone else.
Before you decide, you may want to talk with your family or close friends. Although you’re not required to consult a lawyer in order to make a legally binding power of attorney, it’s a good idea to do so. Consulting with other expert advisors is also a good idea, providing they are impartial and concerned only with your best interests.
You can use the Incapacity Planning Questionnaire to assist you with the selection process.