Power of Attorney
February 9, 2012
It is extremely important to determine who will make decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so. Your inability to act on your own could come from an accident, illness or just old age.
If you are incapacitated who will pay your bills, handle your investments and provide instructions for your health care? You need a trusted person to help in the event you cannot provide direction in these areas.
This can be achieved through the use of Powers of Attorney.
There are two types of Powers of Attorney in Ontario. A Power of Attorney for Property allows one or more people to make financial decisions on your behalf. That could include making banking decisions, paying your bills or buying and selling investments.
The second type is a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. In this case, one or more individuals make decisions about your medical care, where you live and what you will eat.
The Power of Attorney is your written delegation of important decisions made during your lifetime. It has nothing to do with a Will which dictates decisions to an executor after you die.
An executor will pay all outstanding debts, complete your final tax return and distribute your assets according to your wishes as they are stated in your Will.
They have no legal power to act on your behalf while you are living. The exception would be if the same person was acting as both your executor and your attorney.
You should think seriously about adding a Power of Attorney for both property and personal care if you do not already have them.
It is critical to think carefully before deciding who should be asked to assume this important responsibility. Select people you trust and would have your well-being as their priority.
Last Wednesday the front page article of The Oakville Beaver reported a con man defrauded his 88 year old mother. Twenty thousand dollars was stolen from this Oakville resident by her 57 year old son.
While this type of case is the exception, these situations can and do occur. There must be a high level of trust in whom you select as a Power of Attorney.
There are Power of Attorney kits available from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General or you can consult a lawyer. The obvious difference is cost.
The legal fee will allow you an opportunity to discuss your wishes as well as the advantages and disadvantages of people you might select.
An appointment with a lawyer could also include a more comprehensive conversation about your Will. That might include preparing a Living Will.
A Living Will is your instructions to your Power of Attorney. That could include the type of medical care you do or do not want.
Not only does a Living Will make your wishes known, it will also make these difficult decisions easier for those you have chosen to act on your behalf.
We encourage you to have Powers of Attorney for both property and personal care. But think carefully about who you choose to act as your attorneys.