A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to name someone you trust to make financial, business and legal decisions on your behalf. It provides a convenient means of having your affairs looked after when you are away or simply unable to do so on your own. The authority you give to your agent can be as broad or as limited as you want to make it.
If you're like many people, you may believe that if you were to become mentally or physically incompetent due to illness or accident, your spouse or partner could simply act on your behalf. This is not true. If you were to suddenly become incapacitated, by a stroke for example, and you did not have a Power of Attorney, your family would have to apply to the provincial government or courts to have someone appointed to manage your affairs. Your spouse wouldn't even be able to access your financial accounts unless these were held jointly. This could be an expensive and lengthy process, often taking weeks or even months.
There are two types of Power of Attorneys: Medical Power of Attorney and; Financial Power of Attorney
- A medical power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to make medical
- decisions for you in the event you cannot make them for yourself.
- A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint someone who can have access to your money and financial records and handle your money for you when you cannot.
What can your Attorney/Representative do?
Your representative can do anything you give him or her the power to do. You decide what powers you want to give your power of attorney. You can give the person you appoint very specific and narrow powers: for example, “the power to deposit my pension check in my bank account.” Or you can give the person you appoint very broad authority: for example, “the power to do anything I could do if I were present.”
Advantages of having a Power of Attorney
- A power of attorney is an easy way to have another person handle legal or financial matters for you when you are away or otherwise unable to handle them for yourself.
- You can appoint an adult child, spouse, good friend, trust company or another family member as your Power of Attorney. You can also appoint two or more individuals and specify whether they need to act together (jointly) or if they can act together and separately (jointly and severally).
NOTE: A power of attorney ends at your death unless it is for a specific period of time only