Wills & Estates, December 7, 2023 - by Lypkie Henderson

Demystifying the Process of Granting Power of Attorney

It’s impossible to know the future or anticipate when you may no longer have the capacity to make crucial decisions for yourself. While that can be daunting, achieving peace of mind is possible when you work with lawyers from Edmonton to create a power of attorney document.

You can place essential financial decisions into the hands of a trusted individual by designating them as your attorney. Drafting a power of attorney is an integral part of estate planning in Edmonton. However, you may have concerns about what they do and how to go about creating one.

Understanding the important types of powers of attorney

There are two main types of powers of attorney: a regular power of attorney, and an enduring power of attorney.

A regular Power of Attorney can be created while you have capacity and be “specific or “general”. A “specific” power of attorney is drafted to indicate what specific decisions a person is authorized to make for you—like selling your house.  A “general” power of attorney empowers the person you appoint to make all financial decisions.  It is important to note that this type of power of attorney stops working when you lose capacity.

When estate planning, you will most likely want an “enduring” power of attorney. It is called “enduring” because it remains in effect even if you become incapacitated. An enduring power of attorney can be drafted so it comes into effect when certain events occur — when you lose capacity or indicate in writing that you wish your attorney to manage your financial affairs. Like a regular Power of Attorney, it also can also be written to be narrow or broad in scope. Generally, a broad enduring power of attorney is recommended to cover all financial decisions that need to be made for you when you can’t.  

Why might you want to grant power of attorney?

Without a power of attorney in place your family could be in a difficult position if you become incapacitated and you cannot make financial decisions for yourself. The law does not provide for an automatic transference of primary financial decision-making capabilities, such as transferring real estate. To be able to make those decisions for you, your family may need to spend time going to the court to receive formal authorization via trusteeship to manage your financial affairs. The process can be expensive and time consuming and can be avoided by careful planning.

Carefully choose a person you trust

Because you want to empower someone to manage your affairs in the event of an unfortunate situation, the individual you select should be someone you trust implicitly. If married, your spouse is an obvious first candidate. Some choose other close and trusted family members, such as siblings. With an enduring power of attorney that only comes into force when you’re incapacitated, the individual you designate can only manage your affairs at the appropriate time. They don’t have power over your finances until then.

Connect with experienced lawyers

While there are generic forms, it’s best to consult an experienced professional to craft power of attorney forms that cover all the aspects necessary to you. Doing so provides peace of mind; you can be confident you haven’t overlooked an important detail that could complicate matters later. Working with Will lawyers in Edmonton, such as the team at Lypkie Henderson, can make this process quick and easy.

Protect your documents and plan for the future

Keep documents related to your work on estate planning in Edmonton safe and secure, including your power of attorney documents. You’ve now taken an essential step towards caring for your needs in the future. You should periodically review these documents to ensure everything remains to your wishes. After taking these necessary steps, you can focus your attention on other important parts of your life—like enjoying a retirement.

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