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Power of Attorney – managing your personal and financial affairs

Managing Your Personal and Financial Affairs

What is a power of attorney? A power of attorney is an appointment pursuant to the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, of a person or persons to make decisions on your behalf with respect to the handling of your property and finances or your personal care. Everyone should have a power of attorney, both for their financial affairs and their personal care, just as everyone should have a Will.

1) Power of Attorney for Property

A power of attorney for property allows you to appoint anyone over the age of 18 to manage your finances and property either immediately or on the happening of a specific event or once you have become incapacitated or mentally incapable. A "continuing" power of attorney is one which continues to be valid even during incapacity. With the exception of making a Will, your appointed attorney may make virtually any decision regarding your property or finances that you could, if capable.

Naturally, great care must be taken in choosing the right person – often it will be a spouse, partner, friend, parent or child of the grantor. It could also be your lawyer, accountant, financial adviser or financial institution.

To execute a continuing power of attorney for property, you must be at least 18 years of age and you must be mentally capable to do so. You will be considered mentally capable of granting a power of attorney for your finances if you:

  • Know what kind of property and assets you own, and the approximate value of those assets.
  • Understand any obligations you may have to your dependents.
  • Comprehend what powers your attorney will have.
  • Know that you may revoke the power of attorney at any time, if capable.

If a person becomes mentally incapable or incapacitated without first having executed a continuing power of attorney, the person’s spouse, partner, or other relative may have to apply to become the statutory guardian in order to deal with the person’s property or finances.

2) Powers of Attorney for Personal Care

A power of attorney for personal care allows you to appoint a person or persons over the age of 16 to make personal care decisions on your behalf. "Personal Care" decisions include those involving health care, housing, food, clothing, and safety. A Power of Attorney for personal care can be granted to anyone over the age of 16.

A power of attorney for personal care comes in to effect when the person granting it is no longer capable of making one or more personal care decisions. However, no formal process is necessary for its implementation. Your personal care attorney can make a decision if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that you are incapable of making the decision. However, you may also choose to include a special provision in the power of attorney, which requires your incapacity to be confirmed before your attorney can act.

Our Wills, Trusts and Estates team is ready to help you. To consult with a member of our firm confidentially, please email us or call 877-612-1123.