Anticipating the possibility of incapacity is an important part of any comprehensive estate plan. Unfortunately, though, instead of addressing issues of capacity and consent by assigning powers of attorney, many Canadians postpone this kind of planning until it's too late.
With that in mind, consider these figures from Alzheimer Society Canada:
- As of 2011, nearly 15 per cent of Canadians -- 747,000 people -- were living with Alzheimer's disease or some other kind of dementia.
- If the current rate of dementia continues, then that figure will increase to 1.4 million by 2031.
- Of Canadians who are aged 45 or older, 20 per cent already provide care to seniors with long-term health problems, and about 25 per cent of care providers are seniors themselves.
Understandably, incapacity is a difficult topic that people tend to avoid, but the time to plan for capacity and consent issues is now. In fact, as we discussed in a recent post, Canadians are likely to face capacity challenges that were less common in previous generations, simply because improvements in medicine have resulted in longer lives.
While planning for long-term care can clarify your wishes and prevent heartache and confusion among family members, the reality is that Ontario's legal system for handling matters of incapacity and consent is exceedingly complex, often requiring help from a legal professional. A lawyer with experience in estate planning and guardianship can explain your options.
If you have questions about protecting a vulnerable loved one or planning for your own long-term care, then our overview of legal practice areas may prove helpful.