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Power of Attorney

What is a Power of Attorney (POA)?

A POA is a substitute decision maker who is appointed to make decisions on behalf of a patient when the patient is incapable. 

What is a personal care decision?

A personal care decision is a treatment, placement (e.g. long term care facility) or personal assistance services.  

Why would a patient need to appoint a Power of Attorney?

A POA can be appointed if a patient would prefer to have someone other than those on the  list of Substitute Decision Makers (SDM). A POA is also useful if there is one particular person whom the patient trusts to follow his / her prior expressed wishes.  

Who can appoint a Power of Attorney?

Any patient who can recognize the person who her/she wishes to appoint can appoint a POA. SDMs cannot appoint a POA for the patient. 

Can anyone be a Power of Attorney?

A POA must be at least 16 years of age. A POA must also be capable, available and willing to make treatment, placement and/or personal assistance services decisions.

Can a patient have more than one Power of Attorney?

Yes. One person can be assigned more then one person to be a POA. You can also specify different responsibilities for each attorney.

What happens if there is a disagreement based on what each Power of Attorney wants for the patient?

In the event where conflict is not resolvable, the Public Guardian and Trustee will make the decision.

When does a person become a Power of Attorney?

The POA only has authority to make decisions when the patient is incapable and not before. 

Do you need to have a lawyer involved to be deemed a Power of Attorney?

No. The document requires that it is signed, dated, and witnessed by two people who are not family members. 

Does everyone need a Power of Attorney?

It is a voluntary to appoint a Power of Attorney. If an individual does not have a POA, then the next person on the list of Substitute Decision-makers is contacted.

Can restrictions be placed upon the decisions a Power of Attorney can make?

Yes. An individual can set guidelines or lay out detailed instructions about specific decisions that will need to be made.


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