Power of Attorney
What would you do if you or a loved one were unable to make vital decisions or understand their consequences because of illness, injury or age? Decisions that affected health, housing, finances or even the choice to live or die? Who would assist you?
You have options: legal documents called Power of Attorney Ontario for Property or Personal Care (POAs). They give others legal authority to act on your behalf when you are unable to care for yourself or want help because of age or infirmity. Unlike a trustee, who manages, invests or sells assets you place in a trust, a POA makes decisions that affect your well-being or day-to-day life.
POAs are legally binding, written documents you draft voluntarily with the help of Axess Law Wills and estates lawyers. They are like a Will, but take effect while you are alive. Giving someone you trust the right to act for you while you are still mentally capable can give you and your family future peace of mind. Your choices cannot be overturned by family or others except by getting a court decision.
What is Power of Attorney?
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 (See Who Can Be Your Attorney).
When to Use a Power of Attorney
POAs can take effect while you are mentally capable or if you become unable to communicate or make decisions. For instance, if you have difficulty walking or using a phone, you can have your attorney do your banking for you. A debilitating stroke or dementia can make a POA necessary to give instructions to physicians about health services, where you live or your daily care.
You can rest assured knowing a medical professional or evaluator must concur that you are unable to make specific decisions about medical services or long-term care on your own. Your attorney can assist you with any other personal care decisions.
Drafting a POA to take effect if you become mentally incapable protects your future and your family. Without a POA, a loved one or friend may have to make health care decisions for you or apply to the court to become guardian of your property. The Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee may be appointed to arrange your personal and financial affairs if you have no one else to act for you.
Placing Limits on POAs
You can limit the authority your POA has, such as paying recurring expenses like your hydro bill by the 1st of each month up to a maximum you set. Axess Law Wills and estate lawyers draft a special power of attorney, also called a specific POA, for that purpose. Putting time limits on their powers or allowing a POA to act on your behalf only if you are mentally incapacitated gives you the flexibility to manage your own affairs as you wish. The POA expires when you die. Making a Will at the same time as a POA ensures your estate trustee can take over without delay.
Are POAs Living Wills?
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 they 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.
How to Get Power of Attorney (Ontario)
Axess Law has Wills and estates lawyers in Greater Toronto Area near you who can draft a power of attorney form for your unique needs. We can show you a power of attorney sample to help you decide what to include. A POA is voluntary and made while you are mentally capable, which means:
For POAs for Personal Care --
- you are able to choose someone with genuine concern for your welfare
- and understand the person may need to make personal care decisions.
For POAs for Property --
- you know what assets you have and their worth
- are aware of your obligations to dependants
- and understand the authority and power you are giving your attorney -- which, unless you state otherwise, takes effect immediately.
Who Can Be Your Attorney
You can choose almost anyone as your attorney who is mentally capable and 16 or older for personal care or 18 or older for property. Unless they are a family member, exceptions are your:
- social worker, counsellor or teacher
- doctor, nurse, therapist or other health care provider
- homemaker or attendant or anyone who cares for you in your home.
Anyone who provides paid services to you is ineligible, but you can pay a trust company to be POA for property. You can appoint one or several attorneys, who can act "jointly and severally", which means make decisions together or alone, or "jointly". You can also appoint alternate or substitute attorneys in case an attorney is unable or unwilling to act for you.
Changing Your Attorney
Whoever you choose as attorney is expected to act in good faith, keep accurate records, not mingle assets with their own and avoid conflicts of interest. You can change your POA at any time, just by contacting an Axess Law lawyer near you. Tell us if an attorney makes you uncomfortable, assets are missing or you or your family member are being coerced to do things against your will.
Affordable Legal Fees for Every Budget
Our flat fees make protecting yourself and loved ones easier than ever. We can draft a personal Will plus Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care for just $249.99. Or you can make a POA for $69.99 each or $99.99 for two. Wills start at $199.99 and up. Make an convenient video call with Ontario virtual Wills and estate lawyers or call us to meet with Wills lawyers near you at our Greater Toronto Area law offices.