What is a Power of Attorney for Property?
A Power of Attorney for Property is a written document in which you (the “Grantor”) appoint another person (the “Attorney”) to act on your behalf. Through a Power of Attorney for Property you grant your Attorney the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf relating to your finances and assets (i.e. investments, bank accounts, real property, insurance, employment or government benefits, tax returns, etc.).
A Power of Attorney for Property is used during the Grantor’s lifetime. It has no legal effect once the Grantor dies.
When can I use a Power of Attorney for Property?
A Power of Attorney for Property may be used at any time after it is executed. If you are mentally capable but require assistance you may instruct your Attorney to do things on your behalf (i.e. paying bills, filing tax returns, making investment decisions, etc.). While you are capable the Attorney is required to act only if specifically instructed by you and to do only what you have instructed them to do.
If you are mentally incapable the Attorney is required to act in your best interests and must maintain records of all actions taken on your behalf.
Why do I need a Power of Attorney?
Ontario law does not grant family members the automatic right to manage an incapable person’s property. This means that if you don’t have a Power of Attorney and become incapable there is no one, not even your spouse or child, who may act on your behalf. If you do not have a Power of Attorney for Property in place and become incapable then a guardian must be appointed by the Court to deal with assets solely held in your name, file income taxes, access information, or provide instructions regarding government or employment benefits, etc.
Appointing an Attorney under a Power of Attorney for Property allows you to decide who should manage your affairs in the event that you require assistance and/or become incapable.
If you do not have a Power of Attorney for Property in place and become incapable you will have no input into who is appointed as your Guardian by the Courts. The costs of the court application will be paid out of your assets and there will be a delay between the time that you become incapable and when the Court is able to make an order appointing a Guardian on your behalf. During this period the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will take control of your assets and manage them on your behalf. Neither you nor your family has any say in this or control over what happens during this period.
Proper planning can provide you with peace of mind knowing that your attorney is someone you trust. Most of all, having a Power of Attorney will save you and your family time and money. Drafting a Power of Attorney is much quicker and less expensive compared to a guardianship application. A Power of Attorney will alleviate stress on your family and allow them to manage your property without delay.
If you need to create or revise your Power of Attorney for Property click here to arrange an appointment. We look forward to meeting you and customizing your Power of Attorney according to your specific needs.