What you need to knowabout choosing a Power of Attorney

Tips and guidance in making the right choice for you

Why a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a document which gives another party legal authority to act on your behalf in order to manage your financial and legal/business affairs or personal health care affairs. The power given can be very broad or can be assigned to a specific need or task.

In Canada, most but not all provinces set out two separate processes and documents for the two types of decisions.  If the delegation under a particular Power of Attorney is made at a time of incompetency, it is important to know that the delegation cannot come into effect until it is determined you are incapable of making these decisions on your own.

Ordinary vs Enduring Powers of Attorney?

There are two major types of powers of attorney; ordinary and enduring.

Why you need to consider Powers of Attorney
This type of document may be referred to by different names depending on the Province, State or Country you are living in. Basically, Powers of Attorney provide a person designated by you with the ability to represent you in two specific areas; dealing with your financial and business affairs, and dealing with matters that involve your personal care.

A Power of Attorney is extremely important in the event you become incapacitated or are unable to manage your affairs on your own. In many jurisdictions, if you do not have an attorney specified in advance, one may be appointed for you to act on your behalf. Clearly, it is better to be able to control this process in advance.

"What we got here, is failure to communicate.....Cool Hand Luke"
Not talking, or clearly communicating, about how you think and feel about personal care and health care could be a recipe for disaster. Having those conversations, and better yet recording it in a written document, goes a long way in guiding and directing the decision of those you have entrusted with that specific task. 

Taking these necessary steps to plan for a potential time of incompetency does not mean you lose control of your decision making now against your wishes. With health care delegation, that delegation cannot come into effect until it is determined, independently, that you are incapable of making decisions on your own.

Some Important Considerations
Think carefully about your own personal values when it comes to medical and potential end-of-life decisions. It is prudent to appoint a substitute decision maker who you feel could make decisions as you do, and who shares similar values.

If the appointment is joint, all attorneys must act together. If they are appointed jointly and severally, they may act together or alone.

Consider carefully if you are appointing an attorney who is non-resident to the jurisdiction where the Power of Attorney is to be enforced.

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