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Protecting long-term finances with a power of attorney

Aging is inevitable. And one of the wisest, yet most overlooked things British Columbia residents can do to protect their finances as the years march on is to make sure they have a power of attorney in place. It is best to be prepared for the unforeseen, like not being able to make financial decisions due to incapacity or illness and having a document in place that specifies who will have power of attorney in such circumstances.

A will should typically accompany a power of attorney -- the two go hand-in-hand. A person who has power of attorney over someone's affairs can make financial, like withdrawing money from a bank account or making changes to the account, like an address change, for instance. Someone with a power of attorney must act in the best interests of the grantor (the person who makes the power of attorney).  So when a grantor is deciding on who this person should be, he or she will want to choose someone trustworthy, honest and somewhat financially astute. Often this is a spouse or adult child.

A new power of attorney will revoke an existing one. It can also be specific about what the person designated to act in this capacity can and can't do, according to the grantor's instructions specified in the document. There can be more than one person designated for the task, and a power of attorney can also be cancelled at any time.

A British Columbia lawyer may be able to assist in setting up a power of attorney for a client to ensure finances are looked after should the unexpected happen. A power of attorney might also put a client's mind at ease as the years go on. A lawyer might also be able to remind clients to update the document as life changes occur.  

Source: theglobeandmail.com, "Power of attorney is your financial defence against the risks of aging", Rob Carrick, Accessed on April 27, 2018

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