Powers of Attorney
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Your Power of Attorney for Personal Care empowers one or more trusted persons to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated and when you are not able to provide informed medical consent. Under Ontario law, if you do not have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and are unable to consent to medical care or treatment, Ontario Consent and Capacity Board may be the one appointing a substitute decision maker for you, without your consent.You may also provide specific instructions in a Power of Attorney for Personal Care as to the decisions you do or do not authorize your attorney to make on your behalf. For example, some people elect in the Power of Attorney for Care to specifically instruct health care providers as to the degree to which extraordinary measures may be taken to resuscitate or medically extend natural life where there is no reasonable prospect of genuine recovery thereafter.
A Power of Attorney for Personal Care can be prepared quickly and cost-effectively to provide peace of mind and certainty to you and your family.
At Ivan Steele Law Office, we recommend preparation of this documentation at the same time your Last Will and Testament is completed, with periodic reviews at two to three year intervals.
Powers of Attorney for Property in Ontario
A durable power of attorney for property — or financial power of attorney — is a simple, inexpensive, and reliable way to arrange for someone to manage your finances if you become incapacitated (unable to make decisions for yourself). A Continuing Power of Attorney is a legal document by which a person gives someone else legal authority to make decisions about their finances if they become unable to make those decisions themselves. The person who is named as the attorney does not have to be a lawyer. The power of attorney is called “continuing” because it can be used after the person who gave it is no longer mentally capable.
A power of attorney for property can be drafted so that it goes into effect as soon as you sign it. It is important to specify that you want the power of attorney to be durable or continuing. Since power of attorney generally gives the designated person broad authorization to handle all of your finances, you should always have a family lawyer draft and witness this document.
Keep in mind that you can give your attorney for property as much or as little power as you wish. Think carefully before you limit the scope of your attorney’s authority. If you become incapable of making financial decisions and your attorney does not have full authority, it may be necessary for your attorney, a family member, friend or the Public Guardian and Trustee to be appointed as your guardian of property in order to manage the balance of your property. In that case, a management plan must be filed and security may be required. You may want to give your agent authority to do some or all of the following:
• Use your assets to pay your everyday expenses and those of your family
• Buy, sell, maintain, pay taxes on, and mortgage real estate and other property
• Collect Social Insurance or other government benefits
• Invest your money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
• Handle transactions with banks and other financial institutions
• Buy and sell insurance policies and annuities for you
• File and pay your taxes
• Operate your small business
• Claim property you inherit or are otherwise entitled to
• Transfer property to a trust you’ve already created
• Hire someone to represent you in court, and
• Manage your retirement accounts.
Your continuing power of attorney for property automatically ends at your death, when your will kicks in. That means that you cannot give someone authority to handle things after your death, such as paying your debts, making funeral or burial arrangements, or transferring your property to the people who inherit it. If you want your agent to have authority to wind up your affairs after your death, use a Will to name that person as your executor.
You can choose anyone you want as your attorney as long as he or she is at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. Many trust companies and banks are prepared to act as attorneys for property and charge a fee for this service. Some individuals choose this option because they want an attorney who is professional and impartial.
It is important to know that by making this power of attorney, you revoke (cancel) any other continuing power of attorney for property that you have made before. If you have made such a power of attorney before and you do not want to revoke it, you should consult with a lawyer so that he or she will make the necessary changes to this form. If you want more than one person involved in your financial decisions, you can name more than one person to be your attorney for property. But you are not required to do so. On the other hand, you may decide not to name more than one attorney if you’re concerned about the possibility of disagreements or if you believe it may be difficult for others to deal with more than one person concerning your finances.
Your continuing power of attorney will end in several circumstances, most common of which are:
• You revoke it. As long as you are mentally competent, you can revoke a durable power of attorney at any time.
• A court invalidates your document. It’s rare, but a court may declare your document invalid if it concludes that you were not mentally competent when you signed it, or that you were the victim of fraud or undue influence.
• No attorney or substitute attorney for property is available or willing to act. To avoid this problem, you can name several alternate attorneys for property in your document.