Garton & Harris

Common sense should accompany a power of attorney

Fraud has long been associated with some aspects of estate planning. British Columbia residents who are planning their estates and deciding on someone to look after their power of attorney should take the time to make a prudent decision and choose someone they trust implicitly. A power of attorney is an extremely potent document and the person chosen to act on someone else's behalf, should the person be unable to do so, needs to be someone who can manage a grantor's financial affairs responsibly.

Financial institutions need to ensure the person who is acting on a power of attorney actually has the authority to do so. Banks have the right to refuse a power of attorney for a number of reasons: the document may be outdated, could be unclear or doesn't conform to the bank's policies. They have the right to question any circumstances they believe to appear suspicious.

Banks may ask that a grantor of a power of attorney get a capacity assessment. In other words, they want to make sure the grantor was of sound mind when the document was created. Having legal advice when creating such a document is essential since having a power of attorney that is in limbo can create undue problems for an individual's estate. 

British Columbia residents should create a power of attorney when they are still of sound mind to do so. A lawyer can assist clients in creating a document that will hold up legally. A lawyer can also work with a client to update the document -- and other estate planning documents -- as his or her life changes.

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