The importance of a power of attorney


Who will make decisions for you in the event that a prolonged mental disability prevents you from making them? With a power of attorney, you can assign those responsibilities to someone you trust will act as you would have. Without a power of attorney you effectively leave the decision making to the courts.

Obviously, you need to have the power of attorney written when you are mentally capable of making that first, all important decision. If you do not have a power of attorney as you read this, the time to act is now.

A power of attorney is a legal document. There are two different types:

  1. A power of attorney for personal care deals with personal and health care. Also known as a “living will” the power of attorney for personal care allows you to express your wishes as to how you should be treated in the event you should become incapacitated. You can deal with such areas as life support, pain management in the event of terminal illness, when life should be terminated, etc. If the power of attorney is absent, delays in medical treatments can occur and the final decisions may well be left to the courts to make.
  2. A power of attorney that deals with your financial affairs is known as a “power of attorney for property.” With a power of attorney for property you empower a trusted person to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. This type can be made on a limited basis – limited to certain types of assets; it can be a permanent, indefinite in terms of time or a temporary. The document can provide all encompassing control over your affairs, can be effective the moment you sign it or can be effective upon certain circumstances occurring.

An enduring power of attorney, accepted by most provinces, means that your affairs can continue to be managed even if you are mentally incapacitated without your intervention or your supervision during times when your input would be most needed. In all cases, the authority you provide by a power of attorney ends with your death.

And that, of course, is an event that will trigger the use of your will.

The above comments are not to be interpreted as legal advice. Like your will, the power of attorney is an important document that should be prepared with the assistance of professional legal advice.