Powers of attorney

Powers of attorney for property gives an individual authority to make financial decisions for you. Powers of attorney for personal care permits someone to make personal and health care decisions on your behalf.

What is the Power of Attorney for Property?

This is the document most people probably think of when they hear “power of attorney”. It covers the general management of a person’s affairs, personal and business. Property in this context is widely defined.

This should only be granted to someone in whom you place great trust. It usually provides for a broad range of powers. A power of attorney for property can be drawn for a specified period of time (“while I am out of Canada”) or for a certain purpose (“to sell 100 shares of XYZ Corp.”). But it is more common for it to be general in nature, and “continuing”; that is, it continues to be valid during any subsequent incapacity of the donor. To be “continuing”, it must specifically address the issue of the donor’s subsequent incapacity. Even a general power of attorney can have restrictions written into it. For example, you might give an individual authority over your financial affairs, but direct thayour home could not be sold. That person could not prepare or change your will, nor could they give away any property that was bequeathed to someone else in your will.

What is the Power of Attorney for Personal Care?

A power of attorney for personal care takes effect when the donor believes that you are incapable. You can set out in the power of attorney how you want that issue to be decided. You can also give the individual specific instructions on what you want to do in certain circumstances. They will have the authority to make decisions about your health care, shelter and clothing, nutrition, hygiene and safety if you are incapable. You can sign a power of attorney, or write a new one, if you are well enough to understand its meaning and purpose, even though you may already be getting help with your personal care needs.

You can select a donee who is at least 16 years old to act for you, but you cannot name anyone who is already being paid to provide you with residential or health care, social training, or advocacy/support services, unless that person is your spouse or a relative. In Ontario, the Consent to Treatment Act and the Substitute Decisions Act took effect in 1994. As a result, you can now delegate power over all such decisions, including the important power to consent or withhold consent to medical treatment.

It is important not to confuse this document with a living will, which is neither a will nor a power of attorney for personal care, and will probably not have the legal force necessary to achieve your goals. The power of attorney for personal care will give your donee the necessary legal authority to make health care choices on your behalf.