Having power of attorney (POA) is a powerful responsibility. Besides leaping over legal obstacles, POA in Ontario gives you the power to:
1. Help others.
Aging parents, adult children with mental or physical disabilities or a friend with a head injury could all use your help managing their health and financial affairs.
2. Get help.
Doctors, family lawyers or bankers can give you an independent opinion on your parents’, child’s or friend’s mental capacity to make a POA. Having mental capacity includes:
- knowing what property you have and its approximate value
- understanding your obligations to your dependents
- understanding what your “attorney” will be able to do on your behalf and that they are accountable for their actions
- appreciating a POA can be revoked or cancelled at any time, as long as you are mentally capable
- understanding financial decisions your attorney makes will impact your financial resources, and
- appreciating the person you choose (your attorney) might abuse their authority.
3. Hear voices.
Being respectful means listening to the other person’s wishes and intentions for their care, their daily activities and their money.
4. Jump into action, now or later.
A POA for personal care or a POA for property (financial decisions) can be effective now. Or you can make one today so it is available when you need it.
5. Protect others.
As long as your parent can understand what they are signing and choose someone to act on their behalf, an Ontario wills and estates lawyer can arrange the documents.
6. Make good choices.
Your choices could determine how their long-term investments do, what medical procedures are performed (or not) and if massage therapy is worth the cost. You make good choices in your own life. Now you will be asked to make choices for others.
Connecting with an Ontario family lawyer helps you understand your rights and responsibilities as POA.
8. Defend the moat.
When scammers circle the family castle, you’ll be in charge of chasing them off and ensuring passwords, bank accounts, investments, credit cards and legal papers like wills are safe and sound.
10. Guard property.
Without an available, able and willing guardian of property like you, the Ontario Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee would have to act on your family member’s, child’s or friend’s behalf. You wouldn’t want that.
11. Keep legal documents up to date.
Your POA is only effective in Ontario. You’ll need to visit a lawyer to get a new POA if your family member, child or friend moves to another province.
12. Update wills and estates.
Ontario wills are only valid if they are up to date, signed and, unless handwritten in full, witnessed. Finding their wills and keeping them updated will fall to you.
13. Get legal advice.
A POA is one of the most powerful documents you can make. While you could use an online or bookstore power of attorney kit, you probably want legal advice before you agree to or create a POA. That said, a properly completed, signed and witnessed POA made by someone with the mental capacity to do so is perfectly legal and binding.
14. Be a substitute decision maker.
Since you are literally acting in someone else’s place, you may need to get a notarized copy of your POA or bring the original along when dealing for the first time with the person’s banker, family lawyer, investment advisor, physician or care facility. That gives them assurance you are who you say you are. Axess Law can notarize a POA by video conference anywhere in Ontario or in person at any of our seven location.
15. Defend legal challenges.
If a family member or institution challenges your authority to make decisions, you may have to go to court to defend yourself. Ask an Ontario wills and estates lawyer for advice before you respond to a court application. A court has the final say on your authority.
16. Protect privacy rights.
Your parent, child or friend has a right to privacy. Your job as POA is to protect their right to keep their health care and financial decisions private.
17. Make thoughtful decisions.
Most of all, since having POA is an honour and a responsibility, you’ll want to make thoughtful decisions that respect your parents’, child’s or friend’s wishes, beliefs, religious values and financial resources. Good luck!
Ontario Power of Attorney Lawyers
Axess Law Ontario arrange power of attorney for you or your family members. Dial toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form to make video or in person appointments. Video conference throughout Ontario, 7 days a week, day or evening. Meet in person with a licensed lawyer in Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Vaughan, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s probate law services.