Estate Planning: Powers of Attorney

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A power of attorney is a legal document in which you appoint another person, called an “attorney,” to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. A power of attorney (“POA”) can be limited so that the attorney is only permitted to make decisions about defined parts of your affairs (e.g. real estate), or it can be unlimited which gives your attorney authority over all of your legal and financial affairs.

The most common type of POA is the “enduring power of attorney” which continues to authorize your Attorney to act on your behalf despite any incapacity you may suffer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I appoint as my attorney?

Consider carefully who to appoint as your attorney. You cannot appoint anyone who is paid to provide you with health or personal care or who works at a facil-ity through which you receive health or personal care, unless that person is your child, parent or spouse. It’s important that you trust the person’s honesty and judgment. If you have no family member or friend that you can or want to appoint, you can appoint a respected professional such as your lawyer, accountant or trust company.

Can I appoint more than one attorney?

Yes, you can appoint more than one person as your attorney. Multiple attorneys can be authorized to act (1) as an alternative if the other is unable or unwilling to act; (2) jointly; or (3) independently of one another. We usually recommend that multiple attorneys be authorized to act independently of one another. The reason for this is because alternate attorneys cause unnecessary hassle which requires doctors’ opinions, statutory declarations, and sometimes court hearings to prove the first-appointed attorney is unable or unwilling to act. Joint attorneys on the other hand are logistically cumbersome because this will always require that all of the attorneys be present when making decisions and managing your affairs. When attorneys can act independently, decisions can be made quickly in urgent situations and the POA will continue to be helpful if one of your attorneys were unable to act promptly.

Where should I keep my POA?

Most institutions (such as banks) require the original document to allow the attor-ney to act on behalf of their client. This is to prevent copies from circulating and misuse of the document. The POA document must be kept in safe place (pref-erably not a safety deposit box or a business location that isn’t accessible at all times) to allow the attorney access in an urgent situation.

What are the duties of an attorney?

  • to act honestly and in good faith
  • to act in your best interests
  • to not dispose of any property gifted in your Will
  • to keep your assets separate from the attorney’s assets
  • to keep proper records

What causes an attorney’s appointment to end?

The attorney’s bankruptcy, your separation from an attorney who is your spouse (married or common-law), dissolution of a corporate attorney, or if your attorney is convicted of committing a criminal offence.

Who can help me?

Richard Bell
Veronica Manski
Geoffrey Lim
Khushhal Bains

Other practice areas in Estate Planning