A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint an “Attorney” who can exercise certain authority on your behalf. For example, you might sign a Power of Attorney authorizing someone to sign an agreement on your behalf because you are out of the country when it needs to be signed. It is important to note that “Attorney” in this context does not mean “Lawyer”. Your Attorney under your Power of Attorney can be anyone that you know and trust who is the age of majority.
In estate planning, your lawyer will probably suggest that you sign a Power of Attorney known as an “Enduring Power of Attorney”. In this document, your appointment of Attorney only kicks in to manage your financial affairs in the event you are not capable of managing them yourself. This could be the case for example if you were in a temporary coma following an accident or suffering from acute dementia or Alzheimer’s.
This type of Power of Attorney is “Enduring” because it continues even after you have lost the capacity to manage your own affairs (It also ends upon you regaining capacity). It is an important estate planning tool because without it your family may need to apply to a court for permission to access your money to pay your expenses and take care of your family.
A Power of Attorney can be specific, where you appoint someone to manage one element of your financial affairs (eg. banking) or more general, where you give your Attorney the full authority to act as if you could if personally present.
Who you should appoint, whether the document should come into effect right away or only spring into validity upon your incapacity are the sorts of topics you'll discuss with your lawyer during the estate planning process.
If you're looking for guidance on this topic we'd be happy to help. You can call us at (902) 826-3070 to set up a meeting or contact us online. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.
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