Choosing a power of attorney comes with a lot of care and responsibility. If something were to happen to you, such as an illness or accident that changes your capacity or ability to make financial or health care decisions for yourself, appointing a power of attorney ensures that your best interests will still be considered. Regardless of your financial situation, health status, or age, you could be considering a power of attorney for many reasons.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the right to make financial or health care decisions for you (Ontario.ca). This trusted person does not have to be a lawyer, but can also be a family member, spouse, or good friend. In Canada, there are two types of powers of attorney: personal care and property. Personal care powers of attorney can make decisions about your health care, housing, and other aspects of your personal life such as day-to-day tasks, meals, and choices. Without a personal care attorney, family members will have some capability to make decisions, but not all. Property powers of attorney can make decisions about your financial affairs, such as paying your bills, maintaining or selling your house, or managing your investments. Without this in place, family and spouses cannot automatically make decisions for you, and may have to involve lawyers to become a court-appointed guardian.
Making the choices about your power of attorney early can take a lot of stress off your eventual plate for if and when you are in need of this important paperwork. Taking the time to consider the varying aspects of this choice is the recommended way to start the process. What type of power of attorney will suit your needs best? When would you like your power of attorney to start? How many powers of attorney would you like to appoint? Each of these answers can be discussed with your trusted close relationships and/or a lawyer, and will help kickstart the process of finalizing the legally binding documents.
The next step is to discuss with the person(s) you have chosen to make decisions on your behalf should you be incapable of doing so. Consider naming an alternate power of attorney in case your first appointed person(s) can no longer act on your behalf.
Keep in mind that the nuances and specifics of rules, regulations, and processes when appointing a power of attorney will vary between provinces. As Omni operates both in Ontario and New Brunswick, we encourage you to be mindful of these differences, and seek legal help if you are unclear about your provincial regulations. Choosing a power of attorney does not have to be a scary feat. With the right support and intentions, setting up your power of attorney can relieve some worries about your future and let you focus on the more exciting and joyful parts of life. If you have any questions for the Omni team, please send them to us here.