What is a Continuing Power of Attorney?
A continuing or enduring power of attorney is a continuing POA for property. Your attorney is not a lawyer (unless you appoint a lawyer as your representative), but family members or trusted friends. They make decisions for you, honouring any decisions you communicated while you were still mentally capable.
Unless your directions for your financial affairs are impossible to follow, such as paying for care services you can’t afford, your attorney or other substitute decision-makers must follow them to the letter. That protects your wishes, so you can enjoy the quality of life you desire.
To better understand a power of attorney for property, POAs for personal care or property, as they are called, are made while you are mentally capable of making decisions, but need a little help to manage from day to day. You can make an individual POA for personal care, such as housing, health, nutrition, safety, and hygiene services. You can include treatment wishes if desired. A POA for property allows your attorney to make financial decisions, such as managing income or real estate, filing income taxes, or using assets to support your children or partner.
How It Works
Book Your Appointment
Click on ‘Get Started’ button to submit a request to meet with the Lawyer. Our customer care team will reach out to you within minutes to book your appointment.
Submit Your Documents
On the day of your appointment, our lawyer will verify your identification and walk you through the intake process where they confirm your contact information.
Draft Your Will With A Lawyer
Our lawyer will ask you a series of questions regarding your executor, beneficiaries, and make a note of your wishes before drafting a Will accordingly.
Execute Your Will With A Lawyer
Our lawyer will cross-check each page of the Will with you and if you are happy with the draft, the Will is signed and executed by the lawyer on the same day.
Documents We Need
Axess Law will ask you for two pieces of ID. Proving your identity is obligatory to prevent fraud. You may use either two pieces of primary ID or one primary and one secondary ID. These include:
- Driver’s license
- Canadian passport
- Ontario photo card
- Canadian citizenship card with photo
- PR card with photo
What POA Attorneys Cannot Do
Only you can give someone power of attorney over your property or personal care. Whether you are mentally capable or unable to manage even the most basic tasks, you have legal rights. Simply put, your attorney can’t grant a POA to someone else or:
- change or draft Wills or POAs
- change beneficiaries, such as for RRSPs or life insurance
- make major medical decisions in place of your doctor
- give DNRs (do not resuscitate orders).
How is a Power of Attorney Different from My Will?
One way to distinguish between your POA and your Will is by envisioning a timeline. A POA is used to protect your wishes while you are still alive, while your Will is used to protect your wishes after you’ve passed away. The powers you grant your attorney can be broad or limited, depending on how you want them to act on your behalf.
The decisions you make in your Will are final. Both legal documents are important and useful in their own ways, but these terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably as they serve two very different purposes.
When to Change Power of Attorney
Axess Law advises reviewing your POA regularly:
What Our Customers Say About Us
We worked with Jaz for setting up our Will and POA. He is very knowledgeable and answered our questions with patience and understanding.
It was a smooth and painless experience. Very quick and to the point. Would highly recommend this to anyone needing a will or estate planning.
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Ontario doesn’t use the term living Wills, but you can make advance directives similar to a living Will in your POA that state when to discontinue medical treatment. For instance, you can include a do not resuscitate order (DNR) or instructions not to give you blood transfusions if you are unable to consent or refuse treatment. As long as your instructions are possible to follow, your attorney or substitute decision-makers cannot overturn your wishes. Axess Law’s Wills and estates lawyers prepare a power of attorney form that expresses your personal wishes.
You can make POAs for almost any situation:
- Continuing Power of Attorney for Property to manage your financial affairs if you become mentally incapacitated.
- Non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property to assist with day-to-day financial decisions when you are elderly or on vacation but mentally capable. Non-continuing POAs can be revoked when or if you no longer require assistance.
- Power of Attorney for Personal Care to make personal decisions if you are mentally incapable, such as about your health care, housing, meals, clothing, and hygiene.
Your “attorney” is not a lawyer, unless you give POA to a lawyer, and can be anyone who is eligible.
A living Will is a legal document describing a person’s desires regarding their medical care in the event that they become incapable of expressing consent and stating their wishes. Most commonly, people indicate whether or not they want to be kept on life support, resuscitated, or donate their organs. Naturally, because a living Will is closely tied to health care, some people decide to include a living Will as part of their POA for personal care. However, many people also like the flexibility of a simple POA for personal care, allowing the appointed attorney to make decisions as they see fit. It is always advisable to discuss your wishes with your attorney as early as possible after your POA for personal care or living Will is drafted.
If you are unable to make decisions on your own behalf and you have not appointed a power of attorney, there are set rules dictating how decisions regarding your assets and care will be made:
- In Ontario, without a power of attorney for personal care, the Health Care Consent Act outlines a list of who will make decisions on your behalf. The order is as follows: your spouse or common-law partner, parents, siblings, and finally, any other living relative. Sometimes an issue arises when the person granted the right to make decisions for your healthcare isn’t the person you actually want making those choices, however, having a POA can help to prevent this problem from arising.
- Without a POA for Property, your family will likely not be able to access or manage your assets. Therefore, for example, they won’t be able to pay your bills or collect money owed to you. Instead, they may have to undergo a lengthy and expensive process where they will petition to become your legal guardian and gain access to your property.
Simply put, having a power of attorney ensures that if you are unable to make health care or financial decisions for yourself in the future for any reason, your loved ones will have the power to take care of you and your belongings according to your wishes.