What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that evidences the authority given by one person (the “grantor”) to another person (the “attorney”) to act on the grantor’s behalf in conducting the grantor’s affairs.

Generally, a Power of Attorney only takes effect while the grantor is still alive, but is incapable of managing their affairs on their own; however, a non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property may be used in Ontario where the grantor still has capacity to make decisions on their own, but for one reason or another, it is beneficial to the grantor to give someone authority to act on their behalf with respect to conducting the grantor’s financial affairs in a limited scope or for a limited time. This is most often used in situations where the grantor is out of the country and not physically present to transact business or sign documents on his or her own.

The primary purpose of a Power of Attorney document is to allow someone you trust to act for you when you are unable to act because of physical or mental incapacity, or because some other barrier is in place preventing you from otherwise acting on your own.

There are two main types of Powers of Attorney: Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care. The Power of Attorney for Property gives authority to act on the grantor’s behalf with respect to their property. The Power of Attorney for Personal Care gives authority to make medical decisions on the grantor’s behalf. This person is often the one who has to make tough decisions like whether to “pull the plug”.

A Power of Attorney may be general in nature, encompassing all acts with respect to property that a person may perform (including commencing a lawsuit or selling your house), or they may be limited to specific acts, such as the payment of bills, the investment of certain assets, or other acts.

Once an attorney is appointed, they owe the grantor a “fiduciary duty”, to act in the grantor’s best interest.

To understand why it is important to have a Power of Attorney, check out our other post, “Why Do I Need A Power of Attorney?”

For a more in-depth discussion about what a Power of Attorney is, or for other wills and estates questions, contact us, and we will schedule a meeting with you. If you are interested in having a Power of Attorney document drafted, please visit our pricing page to see our various packages.