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Addressing the possibility of a lack of capacity to make choices

It can be challenging enough for young, or even middle-aged, Ontario residents to understand the value of a will or trust to dispose of their property after their deaths. Understanding that death may not be the only event under which estate-planning documents could be useful may be even more of a challenge. People tend to forget that there could be a time when they lack the necessary capacity to make decisions for themselves due to an accident or injury.

Under these circumstances, families could face time-consuming and expensive litigation in order to gain the right to make decisions for an ailing and incapacitated loved one. However, by executing powers of attorney, that could be eliminated. Ontario residents could benefit from executing a power of attorney for personal care and a power of attorney for property.

In each document, a trusted person will be appointed to make decisions for theĀ incapacitated individual. The Attorney for Personal Care handles living arrangements, health care decisions and decisions regarding daily life. The Attorney for Property handles the financial decisions. The same person or different people can fill these roles depending on an individual's wishes.

Before making such important decisions, it may be a good idea to understand the duties associated with these roles and the rights of those who fill them. It is crucial that the person or people who fill these roles keep in mind the best interests, needs and desires of the individual they serve. Like other estate planning documents, they need to beĀ in place before a lack of capacity arises in order to be effective when needed, so the sooner they are drafted and executed, the better prepared an individual will be.

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