As mentioned on page 40 of the WISH Workbook, Powers of Attorney (POA) documents are very important documents for anyone to have completed – regardless of your age or financial situation.
Power of Attorney are directives that allow the people you mention in them (your 'attorneys') to be allowed to look after your health care and property (finances), if you are unable to. Power of Attorneys are no longer needed when you pass away – this is when your Will and Executor take over.
If something should happen to you (an accident or an illness such as a stroke or heart attack, for example) and you don't have your affairs in order, such as POAs prepared, other arrangements will have to be made on your behalf. Depending upon your place of residence, some provinces/territories have all of these POAs prepared as one long document, or they may be separated into two documents.
Which are the different forms of Power of Attorney you want to have in place in Canada, should something happen to you? Whether you have an accident (and not pass away), or you cannot speak for yourself – whether you're in the hospital, sick at home, or mentally incapacitated, Power of Attorney documentation will help others caring for you so they know what your wishes would otherwise be.
These are the different Power of Attorney legally advised for you to have completed in Canada:
Power of Attorney for Personal Care - These forms are important, as the individual you name your POA for Care will be able to make decisions about your health care, accommodation, and other aspects of your personal life (such as meals, bathing, etc.), should you become ill and/or mentally incapable of making these decisions yourself.
Power of Attorney for Property - The person(s) you name as your POA for Property (your "attorneys") will be able to make decisions about your financial affairs if you're unable to – such as pay your bills, collect money you're owed, maintain or sell your home if it's necessary, or manage your investments. It's important to mention that your POA for Property will be able to access your finances as soon as the document is signed, so be diligent to select a person with the utmost trust, and to complete these documents carefully, noting any objections or specific details.
POA forms can be downloaded for free, printed, and completed by yourself. If your personal circumstances are complicated – such as if there are many dependents who rely on you, or no family at all exists, or you own a lot of property, or have a lot of funds in savings and/or investments for example, it's advisable to consult with an Estate lawyer to assist in the preparation of POAs. Power of Attorney documents must be very carefully completed, signed, and witnesses, otherwise they may be challenged and/or rendered null and void.
In Canada, there is also important advice as to who can actually be legally assigned as your Power of Attorney, so it's important to read the documentation carefully and follow the instructions that are included in each POA package. For example in Ontario, you cannot name a POA for property as someone who will actually benefit from your finances, should something happen to you.
Powers of Attorney documentation may be downloaded for free through the following websites:
ONTARIO - CLICK HERE
BRITISH COLUMBIA - CLICK HERE
ALBERTA - CLICK HERE
SASKATCHEWAN - CLICK HERE
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - CLICK HERE
QUÉBEC - CLICK HERE for information
NOVA SCOTIA - CLICK HERE
NORTHWEST TERRITORIES - CLICK HERE
MANITOBA - CLICK HERE
NEW BRUNSWICK - CLICK HERE
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR - CLICK HERE
*Please note: This page contains general information only and is not a substitute for getting legal advice about your personal situation. Please seek legal advice from a lawyer, to discuss your individual matters and concerns. It is always best to consult with a lawyer with matters that concern your health and financial welfare.
How long is a completed Power of Attorney documentation package valid for?
Power of Attorney documents cease to be necessary the moment you die. This is when a Will is important, comes in handy, and takes over. Please have one completed as well, should something happen to you.