Garton & Harris

Powers of attorney: Why you do not want to wait

British Columbia residents may want to consider getting their powers of attorney drafted and signed now, before it's too late. Indeed, illness can come on fast -- and sometimes it's instantly -- and once someone becomes incapacitated, it's no longer possible to set up a power of attorney when it's needed most.

Countless Canadians have been surprised to find that after their aging parents become too ill to handle their own affairs, they do not have any authority to help their parents with their finances and health decisions. However, just the simple act of signing a power of attorney document can be enough to alleviate families of the stress and legal red tape of getting a guardianship order after incapacitation occurs without a power of attorney on file.

For example, an aging parent might suddenly suffer a stroke and be unable to coherently speak or even think on his or her own behalf. In this case, the family could be facing some very difficult obstacles in making sure that their sick family member's finances stay in order and that medical decisions are swiftly made.

One reason why some Canadians delay the creation of a power of attorney is because they wrongly believe that having a power of attorney means that the named attorney can come in and completely take over one's affairs. However, this is not how powers of attorney work. In many cases, powers of attorney can be specially drafted so they are only activated in the event of incapacitation.

British Columbia residents are encouraged to get their powers of attorney documentation completed now -- before it is too late -- no matter what their ages. When completing this documentation, individuals may want to discuss their financial, medical and life situations with a qualified estate planning lawyer who can help them select the best power of attorney strategies to employ.

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