Powers of Attorney

Powers Of Attorney

Imagine an aging parent, a person full of independence and capability, falling victim to a debilitating illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or suffering a stroke which impairs his or her mental functions. Consider what would happen if you or a family member are out of the country for an extended period. How will your bills be paid, contracts be signed or cheques cashed? Any of these situations are not uncommon and can arise with little or no notice. You may think that in situations of mental or physical incapacity or simply your absence that your family can act on your behalf. Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect. Without receiving court approval or having executed a valid power of attorney your family cannot manage your financial affairs.

What Is A Power Of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a document in which one (a donor) authorizes another person (the attorney) to manage the donor’s property on behalf of the donor. At its broadest, a general power of attorney authorizes the attorney to do almost anything in respect of the donor’s property that the donor himself or herself could do, except make or amend a Will.

Continuing Powers Of Attorney

A continuing power of attorney (also sometimes called a durable or enduring power of attorney) is one which authorizes the attorney to continue to manage the donor’s property during any subsequent incapacity of the donor.

Personal Care Powers Of Attorney

There is now legislation which permits an individual to name a person or persons to make decisions concerning personal or medical care or treatment if the individual is incapable of making his or her own decisions of this nature.

The donor may choose to appoint different individuals to make these types of decisions than those he or she names to manage property. These documents may contain very personal wishes concerning the types of care or treatment the individual does or does not wish to receive.


1. It is generally recommended that you name an executor who is one generation younger than you to ensure that they will be able to act on your behalf.

2. Consider all potential advantages and disadvantages when using the Joint Tenancy With Right of Survivorship agreement. The avoidance of probate taxes is only one advantage for arranging your affairs in this manner.

3. Completion of a Family Inventory will simplify your executor’s “Probate” filing. Ask us for more information and our FREE Estate Planning and Will Kit.

4. Consider naming specific beneficiaries for assets such as RSP/RIFs, insurance policies, segregated funds and pension plans to avoid paying probate taxes on these assets.

5. Your power of attorney document(s)/mandate(s) should always be reviewed when writing or updating your Will to ensure consistency between the two documents.