Power of attorney for Property gives someone the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf such as managing your bank accounts, paying bills, managing your investments, or selling your property if necessary. Power of attorney in Ontario is governed by the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992.
Alternatively, you can give a more specific power of attorney for personal care, which allows someone you trust to make the decisions about your health care and personal needs (i.e. housing) and other aspects of your personal life, such as clothing and meals. It is a component of comprehensive estate planning and ensures that a person’s medical wishes are respected.
Differentiating Ontario’s Power of Attorney Types
There are two types of powers of attorney:
- Power of attorney for personal care (health care, housing, other aspects of your personal life such as meals and clothing)
- Power of attorney for property (paying bills, collecting money owed, maintaining or selling house, managing investments, etc.)
Appointing Power of Attorney for Property in Ontario
The person you choose should be someone you trust, such as a family member, spouse, or long-time friend. Some people prefer to choose a lawyer or trust company to act as their attorney. However, before appointing someone, it is suggested to discuss with them to ensure they are willing and able to take on this responsibility. Ensuring they understand how you want your financial affairs or personal care handled is also essential. Remember, you should never feel pressured to make someone your attorney. If you do not have anyone you are comfortable appointing, it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer about your options.
Defining Property Decision-Making Authority in Ontario
If you don’t limit your attorney’s authority, they can make almost any personal decision that you would typically make on your own. A property attorney you assign has the lawful power to make decisions regarding financial affairs including:
- Paying your bills
- Collecting money owed to you
- Maintaining or selling your house
- Managing your investments
. The attorney must act in the best interests of the person they represent, according to their specified preferences.
Legal Requirements and Validity in Ontario
Power of attorney for property must adhere to specific legal requirements to be considered valid and enforceable in Ontario. These requirements include the grantor being mentally capable and being at least 18 years old, the grantor’s signature or acknowledgment before two witnesses, and compliance with Ontario’s legal framework for power of attorney documents.
When will my Continuing Power of Attorney for Property come into effect?
Your attorney will be able to use the continuing power of attorney for property as soon as it is signed and witnessed, unless you say otherwise in the document.
What level of mental capacity is needed to make a Power of Attorney for Property?
The following is required that you:
- know what property you have and its approximate value;
- are aware of your obligations to the people who depend on you financially;
- know what you are giving your attorney the authority to do;
- know that your attorney is required to account for the decisions they make about your property;
- know that, as long as you are mentally capable, you can revoke (cancel) thisPower of Attorney;
- understand that if your attorney does not manage your property well its value may decrease; and
- understand that there is always a chance that your attorney could misusetheir authority.
Revocation or Amendment of a Power of Attorney for Property in Ontario
Revoking or adjusting your power of attorney for property can be considered because your preferences or situation might change over time. In Ontario, you have the legal right to cancel or modify your power of attorney for personal care whenever necessary. To cancel your power of attorney for property, you must state in writing that you are “revoking” it.
If you do not have an attorney for property, your family can still make some decisions on your behalf, but not all. In certain exceptional circumstances, it might be necessary for an individual to become your “guardian,” which is a time-consuming and expensive process that involves going to court.
Having a power of attorney is a proactive step that can help ensure your wishes are respected, and your affairs are handled per your values and preferences. This essential aspect of Estate Planning might help you prepare for unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances while providing you with the peace of mind that your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust in the light of your wishes.
If you need a Lawyer for your Power of Attorney, contact us today and see how we can assist you!
The information provided above is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice. Every transaction or circumstance is unique, and obtaining specific legal advice is necessary to address your particular requirements. Therefore, if you have any legal questions, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.