Gosha Sekhon is an Associate with the firm Lawrence, Lawrence, Stevenson LLP in Brampton. She concentrates her practice on estates, trusts and mental capacity law. She advises Executors on all aspects of the administration of an estate of a deceased person and guides Attorneys for property and Attorneys for personal care when managing the affairs of a mentally incapacitated individual.

Being mentally incapable is a legal phrase that means you are unable to look after your own affairs. You need to plan for the unexpected while you are mentally capable and plan for a time when you may not be capable. Gosha explained that there are several processes a lawyer has to go through to prove to themselves a person does or does not have mentally capacity. These include  asking open-ended questions, finding out if the client knows who family members are and if they have a good grasp of what assets they have.  Elderly clients with Alzheimers can still be fully aware of their circumstances in the early stages of the disease and can be able to give direction to their lawyer. Lawyers are told not to be 'ageist' and not to assume that old people are not capable of looking after themselves and their affairs.

There are 2 types of POA - POA for Property and POA for Personal Care.

POA - Property: Under this you appoint someone to manage your assets- real estate, investments etc. They manage these assets for your benefit and have to show that whatever they do is for your benefit. If assets have to be sold to raise funds for your well being, this can be done. This can also be used if you are mentally capable, but maybe unable to get around. This person also needs to know what is in your will so that they do not sell assets that are specifically willed to someone.

POA - Personal Care: Under this you appoint someone to make all medical decisions if you are not capable of making them.

If you do not have these POAs you may assume that your spouse will automatically be able to speak for you. This is not so. Ontario, legislation says that when a person is deemed incapable, and a healthcare decision needs to be made, there is a list of people that can make  medical decisions. The order of priority is: 1) Court appointed guardian (only appointed if there is no POA,  if the POA is challenged, or if your children can't agree),  2) someone you have given POA to, 3)someone appointed by the Consent & Capacity Board, 4) your spouse, 5)your child/children.

If you do not have a POA, anyone can make application to the courts to be given your POA and be appointed as guardian.  A simple POA will cost approximately $150, a guardianship application, should you become incapable and not have a POA, will cost $3,000+.

An amazing speaker who held everyone's attention and who generated lots of thought and questions. Gosha also brought gifts.