What is a Power of Attorney?
A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints another person, the “attorney”, to handle your business, make legal and financial decisions for you, and deal with land and/or property that is in your name. It essentially allows your attorney to sign documents for you as if they were you. You might connect the word “attorney” with a lawyer, but in this context it means a person who is appointed and authorized to act in the place of another person.
Who do I appoint as my attorney?
You must be careful with who you choose to be your attorney, as it is quite a lot of authority that you are granting that person. It should be someone you know and trust well, and cannot be a person who is paid to provide you with care or works at a care facility in which you reside, unless that person is a spouse, parent, or child. Remember, if misused a power of attorney can cause a lot of harm.
Does my attorney have to act as my attorney?
The simple answer is no. Granting someone a power of attorney does not mean that they have to act as your attorney. They can simply refuse, so make sure you have a discussion with the person you want to be your attorney before you grant them the authority.
What kind of powers can I grant my attorney?
Your power of attorney can be quite narrow, which only provides your attorney with limited specific authority, or be broad, which provides your attorney with authority to handle all of your business and financial affairs. It comes down to how you word your power of attorney.
How can I end a power of attorney?
The best way to end a power of attorney is to provide your attorney with written notice saying that the power is ended, and advise that the power of attorney document be destroyed. If the power of attorney has been registered with the Land Title Office to deal with property, you must file a document called a “Notice of Revocation” in the Land Title Office where the land is registered. You can also specify and end date on the power of attorney document itself.
What is the difference between a general and enduring power of attorney?
A general power of attorney is only valid while the person who granted the attorney is capable of making decisions on his or her own. For example, if you granted someone a general power of attorney and became very ill and were no longer able to effectively communicate, the power of attorney would end.
With an enduring power of attorney, your attorney can continue to make the necessary financial and legal decisions for you even if you become incapable of making decisions for yourself due to illness, accident, age, or mental infirmity.
How do I create a power of attorney document?
The best way is to contact a lawyer or notary public to draft this document for you to ensure it is done properly, and to answer any questions or concerns you might have about granting someone such significant authority.