Garton & Harris

Power of attorney: It's a matter of trust

There are things people can do legally to make sure their financial affairs continue to be in order should they no longer be able to take care of things on their own. A power of attorney is a document that gives one or more people the green light to manage money and/or property on someone else's behalf. There are two types of powers of attorney in British Columbia and the rest of the country: general or enduring.

Since the person(s) named to act on a power of attorney document is given the green light to make many different decisions it is extremely important this person(s) be chosen with the utmost care. A testator must indicate if the person should have limited authority and to what extent. The more comprehensive a power of attorney document is, the better for all involved. One thing a person acting on a power of attorney can't do is make changes to an existing will or draft a will on behalf of someone.

Powers of attorney for making health care decisions are different from financial powers of attorney and it's important to understand the distinction. There are risks with designating someone to act on a power of attorney. There is much trust involved in the process, but as long as an individual can act on his or her own behalf, a power of attorney document need not come into play.

A British Columbia lawyer can help a client to have a better understanding of how a power of attorney can be beneficial and those things to consider before making a decision about choosing a person to act on the document. A lawyer will ensure any documents adhere to the law. Clients need to know the options available to them and a lawyer can be that source of enlightenment when it comes to estate planning documents.

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