Written by Tom Teranishi

A Power of Attorney is a legal document of your choice to give another person referred to as an ‘attorney’ authorization to manage your financial and legal matters.  The Power of Attorney does not give your appointed Power of Attorney the ability to make decisions on your personal or health care issues.  For this, a Representation Agreement is required between you and the person you appoint to make decisions on your personal and health care.

Basically, the two common types of Powers of Attorney are General and Enduring.

The General Power of Attorney:  the person you appoint still can manage your affairs while you are mentally able to manage your own decisions.  However, once you are deemed mentally incapable of making decisions, this type of power of attorney ends.

The Enduring Power of Attorney:  this does not end when you become mentally incapable of making decisions on your own affairs.

Choosing a Power of Attorney  

Most people choose an entrusted family member, friend, or relatives to be the power of attorney.  If you wish, you can choose a lawyer, notary, a private trust company, or a public guardian or trustee. You have to be comfortable with the person you choose, that he/she/they will look after your financial and legal affairs in the way you would carry out if you were able to carry out according to your instructions. The person you choose needs to know the responsibilities involved.  Therefore think about how complicated your finances are and choose someone who is able to execute your wishes the way you want.

  • The minimum age for Power of Attorney in BC is nineteen years.  Although he/she/they can live in another province, it is more convenient for them to live close by.

  • If you only name one person as your Power of Attorney, it is important to consider naming an alternate if your principal Power of Attorney becomes unable to act as your Power of Attorney due to an illness or an accident, or unexpectedly dies.  The alternate can step in.

There are two restrictions on who cannot be a Power of Attorney for you.

  1. A person who you pay for health care services to help you.
  2. An employee at a care facility in which you are a resident or if the facility provides personal health care services for you.

You can choose to pay your Power of Attorney.  The fee must be written in the Power of Attorney document at the time it is drawn up. Your Power of Attorney is entitled to be paid back for any reasonable out of pocket money he/she/they may incur in dealing with your financial or legal matters. If a Guardian or a Public Trustee is your Power of Attorney, you will be charged for their services.

You should talk with your lawyer or notary to determine what powers you give to your Power of Attorney. Your wishes regarding your real estate matters should be written and signed in terms of how you want them to be managed.

You must register the Power of Attorney at the Land Titles office and pay the registration fee.

It recommended to have a notary public or a lawyer help you draw up the terms of the Power of Attorney – particularly if is complicated or unusual. 

You can cancel your Power of Attorney at any time only if you are considered to be mentally competent.  You must sign and date a “Notice of Revocation” and present it to your Power of Attorney appointee(s).  By the same token, your Power of Attorney can resign by drawing up a “Notice of Resignation” and present it to you. In both cases, you have to notify any companies, organizations, and individuals who are affected of the revocation/resignation of the Power of Attorney.

The above article has been a brief, cursory overview of the Power of Attorney.

References:

  • Nidus Personal Planning Resources Center and Registry
    Email: info@nidus.ca

  • Law Society of BC
    Phone: 604.669.2533

  • Peoples Law School
    Phone: 604.331.5400. 

  • Society of Notaries Public in BC
    Provides a list of Notaries Public in BC
    Toll Free: 1.800.563.034
    Lower Mainland: 604.681.4516.

  • Seniors First BC
    Offers monthly legal clinics for low income seniors to get to help with Powers of Attorney and planning other documents. 
    Phone: 604.688.1927
    Email: info@seniorsfirstbc.ca