Tag: Powers of Attorney

23 Jan

The Ultimate Decision – Who Has the Right to Decide?

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Over the Christmas break, a news story out of Winnipeg captured national headlines. Samuel Golubchuk is 84 years old and on life support in Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital. He apparently suffered a brain-injury from an earlier fall and part of his brain was removed at the time. Tragically, Mr. Golubchuk cannot walk, speak, eat or breathe on his own. His treating physicians say Mr. Golubchuk has no chance of recovery and that his quality of life is negligible. They want the right to remove him from life support. The news stories don’t indicate whether Mr. Golubchuk left a power of attorney or end-of-life instructions.

Mr. Golubchuk’s family has gone to court to resist any attempt by the hospital’s doctors to remove him from life support. Mr. Golubchuk’s family claims that removing life support would violate Mr. Golubchuk’s orthodox Jewish belief and amount to an assault as it would hasten his death.

In early December, the family was granted a temporary court injunction while a local judge considered the case. In January, the family returned to court and presented two opinions from New York doctors. According to the family’s doctors, Mr. Golubchuk was not beyond hope. 

The family has maintained throughout that it is a matter of self-determination and the right to live in a free and democratic society without an outside party making decisions for you. The hospital, on the other hand, maintains that it is up to the treating physician to make a judgment call as to whether or not life support should be removed.

As far as I can tell, the judge hearing the case has still not decided what will happen to Mr. Golubchuk. However, it is clear that the courts struggle with life and death decisions as much as guardians or family members do. There are simply no easy answers. In the end, I think it is difficult to say how any one of us would act or react when confronted with the ultimate decision.

Keep thinking and thanks for reading.

Justin

15 Nov

Frustrated and Marginalized

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In our rapidly aging society, powers of attorney for personal care and property are now widespread and their importance is recognized by the general public. A family member or friend can also apply to the court to be appointed guardian of the person or the person’s property if powers of attorney have not been executed. However, family members often find themselves in a situation where a loved one is being legally cared for by a family member, or friend of the incapable person, who they no longer like or trust. 

A common complaint that I hear is from family members or friends who feel excluded from participating in or influencing decisions regarding the incapable person, particularly when it comes to personal care.  

However, under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, which generally governs the rights of an incapable person, any person, with leave, can seek directions from the court on any question arising under a power of attorney (the same is true regarding a court appointed guardian). Pursuant to sections 39 and 68 of the Act, the court may give such directions as it considers to be for the benefit of the incapable person and consistent with the Act.

Section 66(1) of the Act sets out the duties of an attorney for personal care (section 32 is the corresponding section for an attorney for property). In general, the attorney is required to exercise his or her duties and powers with diligence and in good faith. 

Section 66(6) also states that an attorney must foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends. Moreover, section 66(7) states that the attorney shall consult with supportive family members and friends who are in regular contact with the incapable person, as well as the incapable person’s caregivers. 

The requirements of section 66, coupled with the ability to seek directions from the court, offer family members and friends the means to ensure that they remain involved with their loved ones and are not simply sidelined. Proceeding to court is always expensive. However, where there is genuine concern and frustration that the incapable person is not being properly cared for and/or his or her finances are being squandered, recourse can be had to the courts.

Ciao!

Justin

12 Jun

Powers of Attorney and Elder Abuse – Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #64

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Listen to "Powers of Attorney and Elder Abuse"

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During Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #64, Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag express the importance of educating an individual chosen as Power of Attorney on their roles and responsibilities, as well as full disclosure between all parties involved in the estate planning. 

They also discuss the issue of duelling Powers of Attorney during the succession planning process and the strategy of using Power of Attorney for limited purposes.

Ian and Suzana also touch on the problem of elder abuse and mentioned the helpful emergency hotline provided by the Public Guardian and Trustee at 1-800-366-0335.

22 Dec

Legal Issues Surrounding the Creation of Joint Accounts – PART III

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For our last blog before the Holiday Season, Ian and I wanted to mention the final four legal considerations to keep in mind when dealing with joint accounts.

Firstly, and in particular, mental capacity issues always need to be considered at the time that the joint account is established.

In addition, Powers of Attorney are often the source document behind the establishment of a joint account and the use and abuse of that document at the time that the joint account is established needs to always be considered. Another high-level abuse comes through the use of Internet banking, where one of the family members obtains the password of the parent and then simply proceeds to do his or her banking at will.

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04 Jul

Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #15 – Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care

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In Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #15, we continued with our discussion on Powers of Attorney for Property, from both a non-contentious and contentious perspective, and we discussed Powers of Attorney for Personal Care as well.

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