Garton & Harris

Power of attorney needed for your peace of mind

When you have a will, often within that document there will be mentioned a name of someone you trust to be power of attorney. This means that this individual will be able to make decisions for you when you aren't able to. This person is a substitute decision-maker for financial decisions.

For instance, you may name a trusted family member or a friend to cash in your Old Age Security cheques on your behalf if you go away for a short time.

More than this, it is important to name someone who will see to it that you and your assets are taken care of if you become incapacitated. Of course, this is not pleasant to think about but it makes good sense to face the facts and get a trusted person to oversee your affairs when you can't.

A power of attorney is a document that appoints another person to be an "attorney" on your behalf to take care of business and asset management. This appointment can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be.

An enduring power of attorney is something that you need to talk to your attorney about. If you become incapacitated mentally, you may want someone to watch over your affairs.

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that makes someone you trust able to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This is separate and different from a non-enduring or ordinary power of attorney. A non-enduring power of attorney ends when you are mentally incapacitated.

You need your attorney to help you craft this document. It needs to state whether the person appointed can act while you are capable and incapable. This person's authority needs to be clearly sketched out and able to stand up in court.

Calling in a solicitor from the beginning may be a good idea. This legal representative can help guide you because they are listening to you and are able to craft a document that is comprehensively yours.

Source: British Columbia, "Substitute Decision-Making and Incapacity Planning," accessed June 22, 2015

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