A Power of Attorney is a legal instrument that provides someone you trust with the authority to make decisions on your behalf and manage your affairs.
Nobody would like to be in a situation where they are not able to make any financial or healthcare decisions for themselves. However, accidents or unforeseen events can occur at any point of time in life. A power of attorney is a significant element of your Estate Planning that grants someone the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so.
Through a power of attorney, you can plan ahead of time and take necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. You can designate someone who is trustworthy to make decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated.
What Are the Types of Power of Attorney?
- Continuing Power of Attorney for Property
This type of power of attorney 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.
Alternatively, you can give a more specific power of attorney for property which allows the attorney to manage your affairs within the limits you determine. In this type of power of attorney document, it is essential to define specifically the scope of authority you are granting to your attorney and the time frame during which they can act on your behalf.
- Power of Attorney for Personal Care
This type of power of attorney 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 important to communicate your wishes for these matters to your attorney for personal care in case you are unable to provide consent or decline medical treatment. For instance, some individuals might inform their attorney that they do not wish to receive life support if there is no hope for recovery.
What are the Advantages of Having a Power of Attorney?
Having a power of attorney has numerous benefits and protects your interests in case of incapacity or illness that impacts your ability to make financial or healthcare decisions for yourself. First of all, it allows you to choose the person/s who will make these decisions for you in case you become unable to do so yourself. This will ensure that your wishes are respected and the decisions that person will make align with your values.
Secondly, having a power of attorney might prevent conflicts and legal disputes in family over decision-making power in case you become incapacitated. By designating the person you want to act on your behalf, you can reduce the risk of disagreements among family members.
Finally, knowing that your affairs will be taken care of in case of an unforeseen event might give you peace of mind. It gives you the opportunity to plan ahead for the unexpected and ensure that your wishes are carried out while you are not able to communicate them yourself. Especially for your decisions regarding specific care
What Happens If I Do Not Have a Power of Attorney?
Financial decisions require legal authority. In the absence of a power of attorney, your family including your spouse are not automatically authorized to make financial decisions for you.
In case you are not able to make decisions regarding these matters and do not have a power of attorney for property, an individual will have to seek court approval to act as your representative or a guardian will be appointed by either the Ontario government’s Office of Public Guardian and Trustee or by the court. However, it might be a costly and lengthy process.
If you do not have an attorney for personal care, 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 that your wishes are respected, and your affairs are handled in accordance with 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 Toronto Wills and Estate lawyer to create 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.