Garton & Harris

Understanding special, limited and durable power of attorney

Most individuals recognize the importance of naming someone to handle matters on their behalf should they be unable to do so themselves. But does a power of attorney really need to be a single person given permission to access all financial management decisions? For British Columbia families or individuals looking to have another person take on individual tasks, a special power of attorney may be useful to explore.

A special power of attorney (POA) is an individual who is able to handle a particular issue or issues on another person's behalf. This differs from a general power of attorney, a designation which authorizes someone to make a wide range of decisions when a person is unable to do so. For example, one might name a spouse as a special POA in order to authorize him or her to sign documents in his or her partner's absence. This would be considered a one-time special POA.

Special POAs can also be given ongoing permission to handle a particular matter or matters. Those who wish to name a power of attorney for all matters until the end of their lifetime could consider a durable power of attorney. A limited power of attorney is also an option for those who wish for it to take effect if and when a certain event occurs. 

Indeed, power of attorney options can be far more extensive than just the naming of one person to handle things if someone becomes incapacitated. While this is one of the more common uses of this legal authorization, British Columbia individuals have multiple options available as they seek to plan their futures and designate responsibilities. A lawyer in the province can help to clarify all options and put together a legally binding plan.

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