Canoe Burnaby Lake, Burnaby Notary Public

Make your power of attorney in Burnaby

A Power of Attorney lets you select the persons you trust, your Attorneys, to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. During your initial meeting, your Notary Public will ask you to choose at least two Attorneys. By selecting a first Attorney and then second Attorney, you will have at least one person available to help if the other cannot.  You may also decide whether your Attorneys will work together or separately. If they work together, you may want to choose a third person, who is not an Attorney, to mediate if a disagreement arises among your Attorneys.

 Ideally, your Attorney should live near you so he or she can visit your bank or financial institution directly to assist you.  You should also let your financial institutions know that you have created a Power of Attorney so they are not surprised by a request made by your Attorney.  Selecting an Attorney you trust is critical to developing an effective estate plan.

The benefits of making a general power of attorney

In British Columbia, the law presumes that you have the capacity to make a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney gives your Attorneys the authority to pay bills, transfer money, file taxes, manage investments, pay insurance, sell a car or home for you.  Through a General Power of Attorney, for instance, you can let your daughter who is good with money manage your investments. A General Power of Attorney remains effective while you have capacity. If you lose capacity, your Attorneys can no longer act for you. Only with an Enduring Power of Attorney can your Attorneys act on your behalf after you lose capacity.

Why you might need an enduring power of attorney

Without an Enduring Power of Attorney, your spouse will be unable to make financial and legal decisions for you. The government, banks and other financial institutions will not provide any access or information to your spouse without a court order or an Enduring Power of Attorney, even though your condition results from a car accident, mental illness, addiction, dementia or medically induced coma due to  COVID-19. The Enduring Power of Attorney must indicate that they have the ability to make decisions during your incapacity.  

What are the responsibilities of your attorneys?

Your Attorneys must act honestly and in good faith. They must exercise the care, diligence and skill of a prudent person. Your Attorneys must act within the authority given him or her by the Enduring Power of Attorney. They must consider your wishes, known beliefs and values when making decisions for you. Your Attorneys must support your independence and encourage your involvement in any decision-making. They should not dispose of property that you have left to your estate. Importantly, your Attorneys must keep your property separate from their own (unless you jointly own that property). They must keep records of their actions on your behalf and produce those records upon your request. 

Dealing with land on your behalf

You may, for example, provide that your spouse can deal with real estate in your Power of Attorney.  Without this clause, your spouse cannot sell your home even though you share joint ownership. You may also advise your Notary Public that you do not want your Attorneys to have the power to deal with land.  The law in British Columbia provides that your Attorneys cannot transfer land to himself or herself unless the Power of Attorney authorizes it. A Power of Attorney that deals with land is valid for three years.

Signing your power of attorney

After your interview which may be online or in-person, a Notary Public will email you a copy of the Power of Attorney for your review. Once you are satisfied with the document and its contents, your Notary Public will set an appointment for you to sign the Power of Attorney. Your Attorneys do not need to be present when you sign the Power of Attorney.

Summary

A Power of Attorney is an effective estate planning tool that allows you to appoint persons you trust to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. You are encouraged to speak freely and openly with a Notary Public knowing that your privacy will be protected and that no information will be released to anyone.  Your Notary Public looks forward to helping you with your estate planning needs.