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Power of attorney in British Columbia

Residents in British Columbia may benefit from understanding more about how power of attorney is handled in the province. Power of attorney can be described as documentation that appoints another person, referred to as an attorney, authority over making legal or financial decisions concerning someone's assets or business interests. The most recent Power of Attorney Act, enacted in B.C. on Sept. 1, 2011, made changes regarding the enduring powers of attorney.

Residents in B.C. are permitted to designate power of attorney to anyone with very specific terms, such as cashing checks from a personal bank account. Often times, power of attorney forms may be located at the local federal Service Canada office. Powers of attorney can also include very broad powers so assets and other transactions may be handled in accord with the attorney's best discretion. The Land Title Act often regulates power of attorney as it relates to real estate, unless it's considered an enduring power under the latest version of the Power of Attorney Act.

Unless an enduring power of attorney is established, the authority is disbanded if the principal is determined to be mentally incompetent. People often use enduring power of attorney in an effort to prevent the court from appointing a committee to manage legal and financial decisions if the principal's mental capacity is ever challenged. It's worth noting that power of attorney does not grant authority over medical treatment or healthcare decisions, for that, a representation agreement is required.

People who need help drafting power of attorney or representation agreements may benefit from consulting a lawyer. Legal counsel may be able to help the principal understand the potential issues, obligations and rights that accompany these types of documents. Lawyers may also be effective in reviewing the agreements to ensure that they are legally sound and don't contain any adverse exposure in the future.

Source: The Canadian Bar Association, "Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements ", Sept. 11, 2014

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