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Enduring power of attorny for estate planning

Individuals in British Columbia who are in the midst of estate planning should keep in mind that doing so is about more than just making a will or even setting up a trust. Estate planning also involves an individual's preparation for a future in which they may not be able to make legal, financial and medical decisions. Appointing someone to handle these types of decisions may involve arranging for someone to have enduring power of attorney.

Enduring power of attorney differs from power of attorney. Power of attorney ends when a person becomes mentally incapacitated, so for situations that specifically address an individual's lack of capacity to handle their affairs, enduring power of attorney is necessary.

Specific rules govern ending or changing enduring power of attorney. Written notice to the individual appointed is necessary as well as notice to any financial institutions at which the individual used that enduring power of attorney. Furthermore, enduring power of attorney automatically ends if the attorney is convicted of certain offenses, is a corporation that is dissolved, is a spouse and the marriage ends, or goes bankrupt. Signing a new enduring power of attorney requires adult witnesses that are not close relations, employees or agents of the new attorney.

Individuals who are planning their estate may wish to work with a lawyer to ensure that they have completed documents correctly and considered all aspects of the planning. For example, a lawyer may be able to suggest guidelines for choosing the right person for enduring power of attorney as well as assisting individuals in putting together medical directives and other documents necessary. This helps to ensure that an individual's wishes will be carried out in the case of incapacity or death.

Source: The Canadian Bar Association British Columbia Branch, " Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements ", July 01, 2012

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