Powers of Attorney A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you authorize another person – your “attorney” – to act on your behalf. (In Canada, the word “attorney” does not mean a lawyer, as it does in the U.S.A.) A power of attorney may only be used during your lifetime; it terminates upon your death.
Continuing Powers of Attorney for Property
Powers of attorney have been used for generations to permit others to handle a person's financial affairs. Under a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, your attorney can do almost anything with your property that you can do except make a Will. It can be used as soon as it is signed, (unless the document states otherwise), and it continues in effect, even if you cease to be mentally capable. It constitutes a major delegation of authority and should only be given to a trusted individual who will not misuse this authority.
Powers of Attorney for Personal Care
A major change in the law in Ontario occurred in 1995. New legislation made it possible for the first time to appoint an attorney to make decisions about some or all aspects of your personal care, including your health care and admission to a long-term care facility. Unlike a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, however, a Power of Attorney for Personal Care comes into effect only when you cease to be mentally capable.
Why have Powers of Attorney?
If powers of attorney are not signed while you are mentally capable, a family member or trusted friend will have to resort to the courts or to the Public Guardian and Trustee in order to obtain authority to act on your behalf as a guardian.
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