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What are the different types of powers of attorney?

The Canadian government wants you to know all about what a power of attorney is and how you use one. A power of attorney is a legal document that you sign, much like a contract, with one or more trusted individuals. This person will have the authority to manage your money and property on your behalf if you should become incapacitated. Even though the person is called an "attorney" he or she doesn't need to be a lawyer.

At the time that you sign this agreement, you must be mentally capable of understanding what you are signing in order for it to be valid and enforceable. This means that you fully understand and appreciate the financial and legal decisions and consequences of these decisions.

There are two types of powers of attorneys that are used in British Columbia: general power of attorney and enduring or continuing power of attorney. A general power of attorney is a document that allows your "attorney" to manage your finances, property and assets for you while are not able to do this. Once you become able again, the power of attorney ends.

It can be specific or limited and can give your trusted attorney a very narrow task list, such as helping to sell your home or pay your bills.

And enduring or continuing power of attorney is a legal document that lets the person you appoint manage your accounts and assets while you are incapacitated. It gives your attorney power over all of your finances and property. This type of power of attorney can take effect as soon as you sign it, so you want to be careful.

Knowing the law and doing your research ahead of time is valuable. Being aware of the different types of powers of attorney can help you make a clear decision about your future.

Source: Government of Canada, "What every older Canadian should know about: Powers of attorney (for financial matters and property) and joint bank accounts," accessed Sep. 16, 2015

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