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Power of Attorney for Personal Care

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How will my attorney make decisions for me if I become mentally incapable?

If you express wishes about your personal care, your attorney must follow them if you become incapable, if they apply to the decision that your attorney must make on your behalf. The wishes must have been expressed voluntarily when you were still capable and at least 16 years of age.

The wishes may be included in your Power of Attorney for Personal Care or in a separate document, or you may have expressed them orally or by any means that you use to communicate, such as through a communication board.

Wishes about health care are often called "advance care plans" because these are wishes expressed by you in advance of when decisions about treatment or other health care need to be made. These wishes can help guide your attorney or anyone else who may need to act as your substitute decision maker for health care if you become mentally incapable and unable to make health care decisions for yourself.

No matter what form any advance care plan about health care takes, it is not for doctors or medical staff to follow. It is for your Attorney for Personal Care, or other substitute decision maker, to follow when deciding whether to consent to particular treatments or other health care.

If your attorney does not know of any wishes, or you did not give any, they must make decisions based on what is in your best interest. They must consider your values and beliefs and even the wishes you expressed after you became incapable.

Your attorney must weigh the probable benefits and risks of any decision. They must decide if a treatment, type of care, or course of action will improve your quality of life, or prevent or slow its deterioration. Your attorney must decide if the benefit to you outweighs the risk.

Your attorney might also decide that you would want to change a wish if you were still mentally capable. For example, your Power of Attorney for Personal Care might say that you do not want to enter a particular care facility or receive a particular treatment. However, the facility or treatment might have improved after you signed that. If your attorney believes that you would now feel differently, they can apply to the Consent and Capacity Board for an order allowing them to go against your stated wishes. But your attorney must convince the Board that you would probably have changed your mind if you were still mentally capable.