Taking Elder Care Disputes Out of Court

Elder care

When families disagree about how to care for an elderly relative they often have to go to court to resolve the disputes, which can take a long time. Ontario is considering changing this by taking the cases out of the court system.

Even when everything has been planned beforehand and an elderly person has a general durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney, their families often argue about the best way to care for an incapacitated elderly person. For example, siblings might disagree about the best care for their parents.

In many instances, these disputes cannot be resolved except by going to court and asking a judge to make a ruling. That can be less than ideal. The court system is burdened and it can take a long time to resolve even a minor case that is not considered an emergency.

The Toronto Star reports that the Canadian province of Ontario is considering changing how it handles these disputes in "Elder-care disputes may be moved out of courts."

The idea is to move the disputes out of the court system and have them heard by an already existing administrative board. This board already hears cases regarding whether an elderly person is mentally incapacitated, so disputes about care would seem like a natural fit.

Instead of a long court process, the board must hear cases within seven days of the cases being filed.

While the proposal would certainly resolve disputes more quickly, there are some potential drawbacks.

Parties before the board are normally not represented by attorneys. A quick turn-around time to resolve the disputes might not leave enough time for investigation and to prepare a proper case.

However, if this proposal becomes law, it is certain to be watched closely in other jurisdictions to see if it works out.

Reference: Toronto Star (Jan. 11, 2016) "Elder-care disputes may be moved out of courts."

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