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Some lesser known facts about power of attorney in B.C.

There are many legal tools available to help men and women in British Columbia transition into old age with fewer worries. Wills, power of attorney and other advance planning directives are excellent methods of preparing for future possibilities. Granting power of attorney, in particular, is a versatile way for anyone looking to secure his or her care or finances down the road.

Though many may understand that power of attorney allows a person to act on their behalf, they may not realize how customizable that power can be. It is not necessary to grant broad, sweeping power over all of one's personal matters. In fact, it can be limited to a single bank account, for example, or to a specific transaction, such as cashing a pension cheque.

If power of attorney is granted for handling real estate matters, there are some specific rules that must be understood and adhered to. These rules are part of the Land Title Act. One regulation of note is the duration of power of attorney. Unless otherwise specified, the power is limited to three years. This is one of many reasons why estate planning directives should be revisited from time to time.

Another interesting fact is a person can appoint more than one attorney to manage his or her affairs. This can be done in separate documents giving distinct powers, or in a single document with shared power. In the case of the latter, the grantor can choose how the specified agents will reach decisions (e.g. by consensus or by majority) and what happens if one or more are unable or unwilling to continue. 

It is important for people to make plans for the future, even those with modest estates. Giving the power of attorney is a great way to ensure a seamless continuance of financial and personal care matters should one be unable to do so at some point. In order to be certain things are handled as desired, however, it may be prudent to develop the plan with the assistance of an experienced British Columbia lawyer.

Source: cbabc.org, "Power of attorney and representation agreements", Feb. 19, 2017

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