Ironclad Incapacity Planning


Tony Stark, the billionaire genius playboy philanthropist better known to the world as the Marvel Comics superhero, Iron Man, has been severely injured and is now in a coma.  This has unfortunately rendered him unable to manage his business empire, known as Stark Industries.

Fortunately, Stark had a plan in place to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly if he was unable to manage his own affairs.  Being a futurist, Iron Man took the appropriate steps to plan for the possibility of his incapacity.  Superheroing is a dangerous business, after all.

The Need for Planning

It is important to plan for the worst, even if you don’t plan to go into battle with Captain Marvel.  This includes having powers of attorney in place, just in case something goes awry and someone needs to make financial or personal care decisions on your behalf.  It is equally important to consider updating these documents when there are major events in your life, including major changes in your health, family status, or property.

Ontario has two kinds of powers of attorney.  A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property allows you to appoint someone (or a few someones) to manage your property for your benefit in case you are not able to do so.  A Power of Attorney for Personal Care allows you to select someone to make decisions about your health care, living arrangements, nutrition, clothing (or high tech armour, as the case may be), hygiene and safety.

You can also give guidance to the attorney for personal care as to what decisions they should make in the toughest of circumstances.  For example, a Power of Attorney for Personal Care document can specify that if you are suffering and there is little chance of recovery, no (super)heroic measures should be taken to extend your life.

Stark recently reconnected with his long-lost biological mother.  He responsibly kept his power of attorney documents up-to-date after this major change in his life.  Because of this, Stark Industries is now being run by his mom.  And an artificial intelligence named “Friday”.  And Mary Jane Watson (yes, Spider-Man’s old flame).  Comics are weird.

What Happens if there is No Plan?

In Ontario, if steps need to be taken to manage the property or care of a person who has been rendered incapable with respect to those decisions, it may be necessary to apply for guardianship under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992.  This is usually necessary when someone either did not make power of attorney documents or their appointed attorney or attorneys are unable or unwilling to act.

An application for guardianships can be costly and can take some time to proceed with.  It could easily be a few months before a guardianship order is granted and someone can assume control of the incapable person’s assets.  If the guardianship is contested by someone, this can take much longer.  During this time, the bills can keep coming in, the supervillains keep attacking, and the needs of the person continue to be pressing.

While necessary in some circumstances, guardianship applications can usually be avoided by taking the time to plan for the future while still in good health.  Having powers of attorney in place is an important part of avoiding the related confusion and costs.

What You Can Do

In order to protect yourself and your family from the rigours and stresses of a guardianship application, it is important to visit a lawyer to prepare powers of attorney and to keep them current as your life changes.

However, if a loved one is unexpectedly injured or seems to be having difficulty managing as he or she ages, you should consider obtaining legal advice as to what steps can be taken to protect him or her, which might include guardianship.

The rest of us will continue to be protected during Tony Stark’s incapacity.  Iron Man’s shoes (rocket boots, actually) have been filled by Riri Williams, a young M.I.T. student who is now adventuring under the name “Ironheart”.  The former Doctor Doom has also taken a heroic turn and is out saving the world in his own suit of armour as the “Infamous Iron Man”.

If you know a vulnerable person in need of a guardian, please do not hesitate to contact the Toronto estate litigation lawyers at Eisen Law at 416-591-9997 or online.