Legal

Legal advice for both the caregiver and the early-stage patient as they prepare for the future.

The Mighty Power of Attorney Project

The Mighty Power of Attorney Project

by MEGAN JONES
Managing Editor

One website has taken it upon themselves to fully explore that trickiest of legal responsibilities, the substitute decision maker – a project whose time has come.

After becoming a caregiver for both her parents, Mary Bart took to the Internet, looking for help.

Bart was her parents’ substitute decision maker, or Power of Attorney (POA)—meaning she was responsible for their care and property. She had many questions about how to best care for her loved ones, but rarely found the answers she desperately needed.

“It was frustrating,” she says. “There were always gaps and you never knew if what you were reading was accurate.”

Most caregivers don’t fully understand what a POA is, what issues they’re responsible for, or how to deal with them.

“What if you decide, after awhile, you don’t like it. Don’t want to do it anymore. Can you get out of it? These are the questions we’ll address,” she says.

A POA is a trusted family member or friend that an individual assigns to make health, legal and financial decisions for them. Since POAs deal with a wide range of complicated issues, many are confused about what the designation entails.

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Power of Attorney Project

Inspired by her own caregiving experience, Bart wants to clear away the confusion. She is directly involved in the recently launched “Power of Attorney Project,” in hopes of aiding current caregivers to avoid some of the frustration she experienced.

The project brings together experts from a range of disciplines to educate caregivers about Power of Attorney issues—everything from legal and financial issues to tips on home safety and funeral planning.

Three podcasts are up already—the first explains the project, the second defines what a Power of Attorney is, and the third gives a rundown of the laws and terms associated with POA issues.

“Dealing with the declining health or death of a friend or family member isn’t easy,” Bart says. “Our goal is to get those difficult conversations going.”

Power of Attorney Project is an initiative backed by Caregivingmatters.ca, which reaches an audience in over 70 countries. Bart sits on the board of directors as the chair of the site’s charity.

The project is two-pronged: first is the series of podcasts that will feature a different expert speaking about their own chosen topic. Experts will include care managers, doctors, retirement home executives, lawyers, accountants and funeral home directors.

Second is a day of workshops on January 24, 2015 in King City, Ontario,  that will be available as live webinars. Later, they’ll be turned into online videos, and produced as DVDs. Workshops with deal with a variety of POA issues.

All videos and podcasts will be rolled out over the course of two years.

“Family caregiver don’t always have time to go to traditional workshops or meetings—they’re too worn out,” Bart says. “We thought we would use technology to bring the information to them.”

Bart hopes that listeners and viewers will give them guidance on what topics to cover. She encourages others to email in their questions so that the site can find an expert to answer them.

While Bart says the site is a good place for caregivers to begin their research, she warns that they should still consult professionals in their own local communities.

“We’re a starting point and we’re hoping people will continue that conversation locally.”

New segments will be posted on the 1st and 15th of every month. The next podcast, What lawyers don’t tell you. The realities of record keeping, will be hosted by Linda Alderson, CPA CA, on Oct. 1.

For more information, go to http://www.caregivingmatters.ca

Or phone 905 939 2931



About the author

Megan Jones

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