Why Have a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document signed by you in front of two witnesses, that authorizes someone else (the “Attorney”) to act on your behalf. There are two types of Power of Attorney documents.
1. A Power of Attorney for Property authorizes a designated person to make decisions regarding your financial affairs. If it is a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, this means that the document remains valid even after the incapacity of the grantor (the person making the document). In the event of an illness or accident rendering you incapable, they can ensure access to bank accounts and management of other assets and liabilities is executed on your behalf and according to your wishes.If you wish to limit the Attorney’s authority to only specific decisions they can make for you, then you should have a Limited Power of Attorney for Property to specify what decisions they are authorized to make on your behalf.
2. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care authorizes the designated person to act on your behalf with regards to your personal care and medical treatment but only if you are incapable of making such decisions. This document may also set out your wishes for the type of medical treatment you want to receive when you become incapacitated (this part of your Power of Attorney for Personal Care is also known as your “living Will” or “advanced care directive”).
When arranging an Ontario Power of Attorney for Property or Personal care, you may wish to designate someone as an alternate attorney to substitute for or replace your authorized attorney, in the event they become unable to act on your behalf.
It is important to remember that the Power of Attorney documents are no longer valid after the death of the grantor. The Attorney no longer has any authority to act and the Will takes effect, if one exists.
Consequences of Not Having a Power of Attorney
In Ontario, if you become incapacitated without an authorized Power of Attorney for Property, then the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT) will become the guardian of your property and make decisions on your behalf. They will not have known you prior to your incapacitation and thus have no understanding of your wishes with regards to your finances. A family member can apply to the PGT to be come the incapable person’s attorney. If the application is refused or if the applicant is not a family member, then it will be necessary to bring an application to Court (an expensive and time-consuming proposition).
Power of Attorney Preparation Services
As part of our Estate Planning services, Quinn Estate Law can help you to prepare a suitable and comprehensive Power of Attorney (Ontario) for your property and/or personal care. We can offer guidance and advice to ensure that if you can no longer make decisions for yourself due to accident or illness, financial affairs and personal care will be managed by someone you have personally appointed. Knowing that you have appointed someone you trust to act with your best interests in mind, will give you and your family peace of mind.
We will help you to determine the type of Power of Attorney you prefer, specific instructions you wish to have included, the designated attorneys (and substitutes if desired), and whether they will act jointly or jointly and severally.