A power of attorney is a legal document that gives one or more persons (referred to as attorneys) the authority to manage your financial and legal matters, including your real estate properties on your behalf.
Having a power of attorney arrangement in place makes it clear who will be responsible for your money and property if you are unable to manage them on your own, even temporarily. This document is a critical part of personal planning because if you lose your mental capacity and do not have a valid power of attorney in place, another person may need to obtain authority from the Supreme Court to manage your affairs, which can be tedious and costly process.
A power of attorney also provides you with peace of mind as your attorney is mandated to manage your money and property for your benefit and can be required by law to account for how he or she has been handling your assets to ensure that your best interests are being looked after.
There are two commonly-seen types of powers of attorney: an ordinary power of attorney and the enduring power of attorney.
An ordinary powers of attorney
An ordinary power of attorney gives your attorney the authority to manage all or some of your finances and property only while you are still mentally capable of managing your affairs. It ends if you become mentally incapacitated.
It can be specific, meaning it gives your attorney authority for a definite period, or it can be limited, meaning it gives authority for only a particular task, for example, to sell a particular piece of real estate. This power of attorney can start as soon as you sign it or on a date specified in the document, and you can be flexible in regards to whatever restrictions you wish to place in the power of attorney.
Enduring or continuing powers of attorney
Unlike an ordinary power of attorney, an enduring or continuing power of attorney enables your attorney to continue acting on your behalf even if you become mentally incapable of handling your affairs. This continued authority gives obvious advantages over an ordinary power of attorney and greater peace of mind to the donor making the power of attorney.
An enduring power of attorney can take effect as soon as you sign it, or you may specify that it takes effect only if you become mentally incapacitated, usually with at least one doctor’s confirmation of incapacity. You may also set restrictions on the scope of the attorney’s authority in the enduring power of attorney.
Termination of powers of attorney
There are various grounds under which an enduring power of attorney can end. These include termination or revocation of the power of attorney, the resignation of the attorney, or the death of the donor or attorney. If the power of attorney was registered at the land title office to deal with real properties, then you will need to file a notice terminating the power of attorney at the land title office in addition to providing notice to your attorney. There are specific service requirements to give the notice to terminate the power of attorney, so do consult with a legal professional.
Do you need help drafting a power of attorney?
When preparing a power of attorney, it is wise to seek legal guidance, especially if your situation is complicated.
If you are searching for a lawyer in Richmond to help prepare a power of attorney, contact us today at Bernard Lau and Co. by calling 604-285-5240 to schedule an appointment with our estate and personal planning lawyer.