2. Choose your attorney

Think carefully about who to choose as your attorney. Your attorney should be someone who cares about you. Think about who:

  • might be available when you need their help
  • would talk to you about your wishes based on what you’re able to understand
  • understands your personality, values, and beliefs
  • would be able to make difficult decisions for you based on what they think you would have wanted, even if your other family members disagree

Who can be an attorney

You can choose anyone as your attorney for personal care except someone who is:

  • ,
  • under 16 years of age, or
  • paid to give you certain types of services, unless this person is your , partner, or another family member.

These types of services include health care, housing, social services, education, and support services. And, they might be paid for by:

  • you
  • the Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP)
  • a public service, such as home care
  • the long-term care or retirement home where they work.

People usually appoint family members or close friends to be their attorney. If you don’t have family or close friends in Canada, you might ask a member of your local community to be your attorney. This could be a co-worker or a religious adviser, such as a minister, rabbi, or imam.

It’s usually best to appoint an attorney who lives in Canada. And it’s better if they live in Ontario. An attorney needs to be able to act quickly when something is urgent, monitor how you’re doing, and make sure your needs are met.

It’s a good idea to ask people if they’re willing to be your attorney before you name them. You can talk to your attorney about the kinds of decisions they might have to make for you and how you would like decisions to be made.

If you name more than one attorney

You can name more than one person as your attorney for personal care. If you do that, you should also say if you want them to make decisions alone or if they must agree on decisions.

Acting jointly means that your attorneys all need to agree on a decision.  

Acting jointly and separately or jointly and severally means that your attorneys can either make decisions for you on their own or together. This lets one attorney make decisions if the other attorney is sick, on vacation, or not available for some other reason.

Think about whether the attorneys will be able to work together and whether they’ll all be available when they need to be.

If you have 2 attorneys who must make decisions together and they cannot agree:

  • they might have to go to court so a judge can decide, or
  • one of them might have to resign.

Or, if you have 3 attorneys, you might want to pick which attorney will have the final say if all of them cannot agree.

Choosing substitute attorneys

You can also choose one or more substitute attorneys. They would act if your first attorney or attorneys are not able or willing to. The substitute attorney will have to show why the first attorney or attorneys cannot act. 

For example, if your first attorney has died, your substitute attorney will need a death certificate for that person. Or, if the first attorney is still alive, your substitute attorney will need a signed letter from them saying they’ve resigned.

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