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Power of attorney should be given carefully, and then monitored

As men and women advance further into their senior years, it can become increasingly difficult for many to continue managing their own affairs. One possible solution for a senior is to grant power of attorney to a trusted friend or loved one who can then make complicated decisions on his or her behalf. Making that choice should be done with care, however, and it is okay to keep tabs on how matters progress down the road.

An expert on seniors' affairs notes that the average person will live for another 10 years after they lose the ability to drive. Obviously, this makes them vulnerable and highly dependent on the assistance of others. The ability to make sound financial decisions also begins to deteriorate around this age, and this is when many older people in British Columbia decide to grant power of attorney to a family member, often a son or daughter.

Before making that decision, however, there are some factors to consider. For example, does this person have a track record of making good or bad financial choices? Are they financially stable themselves? It would also be wise to consider if they have any personal vices such as drugs, alcohol or gambling, or if there is a history of abusive or neglectful behaviour. Once granted, there is no harm or shame in keeping tabs on the decisions being made on one's behalf.

Making the choice to grant power of attorney can be a difficult but ultimately comforting one. And it is good to know that it does not need to be permanent: a power of attorney can be revoked if it is being used inappropriately (or for any reason). Working with a lawyer who really understands estate law in British Columbia is an excellent way to make this important life choice with confidence.

Source: Radio Canada International, "Seniors vulnerable to financial abuse", Lynn Desjardins, Dec. 6, 2016

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