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Legal and Financial issues pertaining to Caregiving

This section offers a brief overview of some of the legal issues that are commonly faced by caregivers. It is important to note that the laws are different in each province and territory. It is recommended that before getting started you seek advice from a professional is always best to get advice from a professional or someone you trust. Establishing a precedent when it comes to the care of a loved one is essential, especially with the legal aspects of finances and health care.

Legal Issues

Legal Issues

Most of the relevant legal documents can be created using ‘fill-in-the-blank’ forms that are made available on provincial websites. However, as earlier noted it is always best to get advice from a professional.

Some legal issues to consider are:

  • Joint Ownership of Bank accounts\Home
  • Wills
  • Advance Directives

Other Resources:

Adapted from: Healthy Balance Program, Caregiver’s Handbook: A helping hand for friends and family giving care in Nova Scotia, 2007.

Personal Directives

An advance health care directive is a legal document that states the express wishes of an adult regarding the type of medical care they want to receive in case of a crisis.

While this document can be completed at any time, individuals entering a residential care facility will need to complete an advance directive prior to admission. If this is not possible, then it will need to be completed as soon as possible after the person is settled in.

There are a variety of terms used throughout the country. Click your province for more information. 

» Newfoundland and Labrador

This two page information sheet answers common questions about advance directives and living wills in Newfoundland and Labrador.

» Prince Edward Island

Health Care Directive form available from the Community Legal Information Association of PEI.

» Nova Scotia

Covers general information about personal directives including frequently asked questions and sample forms

» Quebec

This information sheet explains mandates given in anticipation of incapacity: what they are, the forms they can take and the steps to follow.

» Ontario

The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly provides information about Advance Care Planning with links to resources, legislation, FAQ’s and Publications

» Manitoba

Identifies the purpose of a Health Care Directive in Manitoba; how to make a Health Care Directive; with whom should the person talk to about these decisions; what is a proxy; who to choose as proxy; a change of mind about the directive; and the effect of a Health Care Directive.

» Alberta

Provides the requirements for personal directives in Alberta, and includes personal directive forms, FAQ’s, publications and video presentation.

» British Columbia

Provides information on advanced directives in BC through Nidus: Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry which is a non-profit, charitable organization that provides information to British Columbians about personal planning.

Other Canadian Resources

» Advance Directives FAQ

Prepared by End of Life Project. Health Law Institute. Answers common questions such as: How is a living will or durable power of attorney for health care different from a traditional will or traditional power of attorney?  Can a minor write an advance directive?  What will happen if I don't have an advance directive? As a healthcare provider, do I have to follow a patient's advance directive?

» Advance care planning: the Glossary project

Prepared by Janet Dunbrack For Health Canada. This report identifies the main concepts and terms used in advance care planning in Canada, the experience of advance care planning in Canada, and success and challenges in advance care planning.

Financial Issues

Critical Illness Insurance

Critical illness insurance pays a lump sum to you if you suffer a specific illness and survive. This money can help to pay for many things including medical expenses, home health care, home modifications, or other therapies or medications. Note that some employers may also offer Critical Illness Insurance as an employee benefit.

You should take a close look at the details of any policy you are considering. Some things to look for include:

  • A clear definition of what an illness or accident is and which ones are covered by the policy. For example, policies may cover certain types of illnesses and not others. You don’t want to pay for coverage and then find out that many illnesses are excluded.
  • Check to see how long it takes to get paid. Many policies will pay benefits 30 days after the illness starts.

Long-Term Care Insurance

The purpose of long-term care insurance is to help pay the costs of care either in a nursing home or at home. It can give families options when choosing what type of care is needed or where that care will be provided.

If a care receiver has long-term care insurance, it can offer additional options and resources for the caregiver. In Canada, this insurance is relatively new. You should take a close look at the details of any policy you are considering.

Ask your financial advisor or an insurance agent for more information. Some employers may also offer Long-Term Care Insurance as an employee benefit

Tax Information

Additional financial support is available through a variety of federal, provincial, and territorial income tax deductions and credits. These tax credits are worth a close look if you are a caregiver or someone who is receiving care. Reducing federal and provincial income taxes can help relieve some of the financial pressure associated with providing care. Click here to view Tax tips: Make income tax time work for you.

Tax Information for Caregivers

As a caregiver, you may be eligible for the following tax credits and benefits:

Tax Information for Special Groups

There is information for special groups of individuals, including amounts you may be able to transfer from the person you provide care to. Please see the following sections for more information:

Provincial Tax Credits

Make sure you check for provincial and territorial income tax and benefits for caregivers during this tax season. The following information provides links to provincial and is related to recent changes in provincial tax credits and allowances for caregivers:

Adapted from: Healthy Balance Program, Caregiver’s Handbook: A helping hand for friends and family giving care in Nova Scotia, 2007.

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