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Careful consideration necessary before giving power of attorney

As more and more British Columbia men and women are living longer, they are increasingly faced with making hard choices about how they will be cared for as they age. To willingly give up the freedom to make decisions about one's own life is a difficult choice to make. It is important to look ahead, and try and see the bigger picture in order to comfortably hand that responsibility to another person. And while granting power of attorney may provide comfort in the future, it can also go very badly if the right person is not chosen.

In a recent case, a Presbyterian minister from P.E.I. is alleged to have defrauded a trusting person out of a large sum of money. The 66-year-old man is accused of befriending an individual described by police as a "vulnerable person" and then acquiring power of attorney over the individual. He went on to use that power to obtain credit cards and a mortgage.

The amount of money alleged to have been taken exceeded $325,000 over a span of more than four years. In total, 22 charges have been pressed against the man, stemming from this incident and alleged frauds involving other individuals. The accused was released after posting a $10,000 bond and was scheduled to return to court Nov. 30.

Granting someone power of attorney is a large responsibility, and it requires a great deal of trust. To hand it over before entirely losing the ability to make sound decisions is not easy, but for many people, it is the right thing to do. However, it is essential that it be given to someone whose intentions are good. To set up an agreement, it may be best to work with a lawyer who understands the importance of the role, and who has a deep understanding of estate law in British Columbia. With their assistance, it may be easier to select the right person for the job.

Source: CBC News - Prince Edward Island, "P.E.I. minister Harold Alan Stewart now faces 22 charges in Ontario", Sally Pitt, Nov. 21, 2016

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