Garton & Harris

Understanding the process of naming a power of attorney

Many people understand the importance of naming someone to take care of affairs after they pass away. But, what if an individual is still alive but unable to make decisions? In these cases, having a power of attorney named in accordance with British Columbia estate law can make a significant difference. Setting up a power of attorney can be quite easy, and is often done as part of the overall estate planning process.

Issues of incapacity, guardianship and powers of attorney often come up when someone visits a lawyer to draft a will or prepare a trust. Ideally, advice on all these issues comes from someone who is local, specialized in this field, and understands provincial estate law. The attorney will be able to explain the different types of powers of attorney, and the steps which can be taken to prevent abuse of this critical role later on.

There are two types of powers of attorney: limited and general. Limited is named when there is a particular task for which someone wishes to designate another to undertake; for example, signing off on a property sale when they are out of town. A general power of attorney provides a much larger scope of rights and responsibilities. In both cases, but particularly for general power of attorney, picking the right person or people for this role is critical.

When setting up a power of attorney, your British Columbia lawyer will ask if you want a separate person responsible for medical decisions and financial decisions. This is typically the best practice, particularly if there is no spouse involved. Issues like this are important to explore with a lawyer to find the best option and ensure paperwork is properly completed.

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