Garton & Harris

Power of attorney: Common sense should prevail

Canadians who choose someone to act on their behalf financially when they can no longer do so need to make the choice wisely. In choosing a person to act on a power of attorney, British Columbia residents will want to make sure the person is trustworthy and has some financial common sense. Fraud is a reality in some situations, so it's important to give this power wisely.

When it comes to banking institutions, they want to know if a person acting on another's behalf has the authority to do so. Powers of attorney can actually be refused by banks if documents presented are out of date, aren't clear or don't conform to banking policies. So, these documents must be kept up to date. Experts say when it comes to a power of attorney, banks should operate on a balance of caution and common sense.

When powers of attorney are rejected, significant problems can ensue, leaving a testator's affairs in limbo. Even though banks may fear fraud in some instances, there should be real and definitive reasons for not accepting a power of attorney. Most of these issues can be thwarted by testators and family members and having a power of attorney drawn up at an age when the testator's mental capacity is not likely to be in question.

A British Columbia lawyer can assist a client in drawing up a power of attorney early on during estate planning. In this case, a lawyer would have time to fix any issues with the document that may arise at financial institutions. With a power of attorney drawn up earlier in a client's life, there is less likely to be pushback from financial institutions. 

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