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Do I need a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?

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Do I need a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
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Do I need a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
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Reviewed: 
December 7, 2020
Answer
Power of Attorney Guided Pathway
Power of Attorney Guided Pathway

Use this interview to make a power of attorney.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document that lets you name someone to make decisions for you if you become mentally incapable. This is sometimes called a "personal power of attorney".

You're called the grantor. The person you name is called your attorney. Your attorney can be a family member, a close friend, or anyone else you trust.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care lets your attorney make:  

  • decisions about your personal care, such as where you live, what you eat, getting dressed, washing and having a bath, and staying safe
  • decisions about your health care that deal with:
    • health-care treatments
    • moving into a long-term care home
    • personal care services in a long-term care home

When the Power of Attorney takes effect

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care takes effect only if you become mentally incapable of making some or all decisions about your personal care.

Being mentally incapable means that you cannot understand:

  • the information needed to make a decision, or
  • what could happen because of decisions you make about treatment or personal care.

Having a substitute decision-maker

If you become mentally incapable of making decisions about your personal care, someone else must make them for you. This person is called your substitute decision-maker (SDM).

If you have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, your attorney is your SDM. Making a Power of Attorney means you choose a person you trust to be your SDM if you become mentally incapable in the future.

Stating your wishes

Making a Power of Attorney for Personal Care also lets you include your wishes about your personal care. This is sometimes called an advance care plan. It can include things like:

  • staying in your own home as long as possible
  • respecting your religion when choosing food
  • letting doctors use artificial life support if you have an illness you'll die of

Decisions about your property

A Power of Attorney for Property is another kind of Power Attorney. It gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your money and property.  

You can name the same person or people as your attorney for property, your attorney for personal care, and the estate trustee or executor of your will. But you need a separate document for each.

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