Power of attorney: what all older Canadians should know

It is perfectly normal to feel a little lost when discussing matters like wills, probate law and – yes – powers of attorney. The subjects are steeped in legalese, although their principles are relatively straightforward.

You probably understand their importance. There is no shortage of news articles circulating that extol the virtues of creating a will or naming a power of attorney. But how much do you really know about the topic? Enough to carry a dinner conversation? Enough to speak thoughtfully with loved ones about decision-making on your behalf?

If not, you should. Especially in light of recent events surrounding COVID-19 in Canada, it is more important than ever to have plans in place if you become ill, injured or otherwise unable to make sound decisions. In this post, let’s explore what all older Canadians should know about a power of attorney in Ontario and the rest of Canada.

What Is Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document, signed by you, that grants another person the authority to make decisions on your behalf. While the term includes the word “attorney,” the person (or people) does not need a law degree.

Non-Continuing Vs. Continuing Power of Attorney

In general, you will encounter three main types of power of attorney: non-continuing, continuing and personal care POAs.

Non-continuing powers of attorney may help with your everyday financial decisions, whether you are elderly or simply away on a long holiday. But they may manage your affairs only when you are mentally capable of doing so yourself; if you become mentally incapable, they no longer have power of attorney. You can set limits on a non-continuing power of attorney, such as giving them authority only for a single task (i.e., selling a property).

By contrast, a continuing power of attorney manages your financial affairs when you become mentally incapacitated. Unlike the other two, a personal care POA makes decisions beyond finances – including your health care, housing and hygiene. 

Benefits and Risks

An internet article can only get so far in weighing benefits and risks for you. Ultimately, the decision is yours, and the best thing to do is consult with a power of attorney lawyer.

Still, as a primer, refer to the Government of Canada’s take on the subject. They list benefits such as a clear delineation of responsibility, flexibility to be as general or limited in the authority you grant, and the comfort of knowing your affairs will be attended to in an hour of need. The risks they list mainly concern vulnerability – they caution you to choose someone trustworthy who has your best interests at heart.

How to Name a Power of Attorney

To ensure that the document is valid, you should consult with a lawyer when naming a power of attorney. An excellent lawyer should walk you through the process, explaining in comprehensible terms what you can expect. You can undertake the process efficiently and affordably with a virtual wills and power of attorney lawyer.

All older Canadians should know the basics surrounding powers of attorney. Further, all Canadians period should know about it. As the ongoing pandemic has made clear, life is neither predictable nor, at times, accommodating. Naming a power of attorney ensures that your finances and care will be taken care of when you need it.

PhotoMaryia PlashchynskayaPexels