Power of Attorney: What It Is and Why You Want One

The power of attorney is a legal document which grants someone the power to handle your legal, financial, or personal affairs.  It can be created to fit many different situations.  Consequently, there are a variety of things to consider before making one, such as when you want it to take effect, how long it should last, what responsibilities it should cover, who should accept those responsibilities, and what the cost of those responsibilities will be. The Power of Attorney Act governs this area of law in British Columbia. 

Meet Jake and Marion. Jake and Marion are in their late 60s. They have been married for many years. Ten years ago, although Jake and Marion were in very great health, they decided to grant each other their powers of attorney. This was a really good decision, because Jake, out of the blue, and very suddenly developed dementia. Thanks to them being organized about their finances, and plans for their future, Marion is able to take of all of Jake's affairs now that Jake is unable to do so. 

When should it take effect?

They can start immediately when the document is signed or they can be written so that they start only in specific situations.  For example, you may want to appoint someone as your attorney so that if you become seriously ill, you would have someone to make financial decisions on your behalf. 

How long should a power of attorney last?

It can be written for any duration, ranging from short term to indefinite.  For example, you might want to appoint a family member so they can represent you in a real estate deal.  Such a grant ends once the deal is completed.

An enduring appointment is intended for use in more permanent situations, such as expected deterioration due to dementia.  As a result, they do not end on their own; they must be terminated.  

What responsibilities should it include?

Such appointments can transfer responsibilities that are wide or limited in scope.  You could, for example, decide to grant someone the power to represent you in a single real estate deal or to manage your entire investment portfolio.

Who should be granted one?

They can give responsibilities to a single person, multiple people, or even a corporation. 

When deciding whom to choose as a representative there are many important things to consider.  The person who accepts responsibility must be financially responsible, reliable, and able to assume the responsibility.  There are also some limitations on who may be granted one.  For example, a child may not be granted one.

Costs of being someone's attorney

If you have been asked to act as someone’s attorney, you should carefully consider whether or not you want to accept the responsibility.  Being someone power of attorney can be a big responsibility.

It is better to say “no” if you don't think you can do the job, because if you use it carelessly or in bad faith, you may be held responsible for the grantor’s loss. 

Medical Concerns

If you are concerned that you may become mentally incapacitated, it is important that you make one sooner rather than later, as you may not be mentally capable of creating one later. 

It is important to note that a power of attorney is not used for the delegation of medical decisions.  For that, a representation agreement is used. 

If you require assistance with, or advice on, creating, revoking, or managing your affairs, one of our lawyers at Hemminger Law Group Westshore can help.

Contact Michael Sandhu, lawyer of Hemminger Law Group Westshore for your power of attorney needs.