Adventures in Eldercare
What is a Power of Attorney and Why it is Important
A Power of Attorney, also referred to as a POA, is a legal document that gives one or more persons the authority to make financial, property, and real estate decisions on your behalf. The person you assign powers to is called your attorney; they may also be referred to as your attorney-in-fact, representative, or agent.
In Ontario Lawyers are often called attorney’s, but, in this situation, a POA does not have to be a lawyer, in fact it most often is not a lawyer. The most common POA that I have worked with in our Eldercare business is a trusted daughter or son, other times a close friend.
Your POA can be nearly any mentally capable adult of legal age. They must not own or work at an extended care facility or nursing home in which you are a resident. They must also not be involved in any type of bankruptcy proceedings when you assign powers to them.
In Canada, every province and territory have its own laws concerning specific provisions and restrictions relevant to a POA. Therefore, it is important to get good sound advise from a legal expert and make sure you fill in the proper forms so that the POA you choose can legally carry on their duties.
So, what does a POA do for you?
Your POA can generally perform all the personal financial actions you are able to. They can do your banking, purchase or sell your real estate, and sign cheques from your accounts. Your POA is your personal representative and must act in your best interests, keep records of all actions taken on your behalf, and keep your finances and property separate from their own.
What things can the POA not do on your behalf?
You can choose to place restrictions on your POA in order to limit actions in specific areas of your finances, such as a certain piece of real estate or a specified business investment.
Your POA can not make medical decisions for you. If you want to put that type of provision in place, consider creating a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. We will cover this in another article.
Your attorney cannot create a new Will for you or alter your existing Will. You must consult a lawyer to change your Will.
When Should you appoint a POA?
The most common time to establish a POA comes when you retire. A rule of thumb that I use is when you start to receive your OAS or the Old Age Security Pension (such a negative name for this program) is a good time to establish your POA. Another common time is if you are facing a serious, long-term health crisis that cannot easily be navigated. In special circumstances a POA can be established for any person over the age of eighteen, most commonly people dealing with mental or physical disabilities.
Dr. Bruce Veltri is the founder and CEO of Victoria Eldercare, a Norfolk County based home care agency. Call 519-429-2644 or visit our website at victoriaeldercare.com for more information.