Estate Planning
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Power of Attorney in Ontario: Everything You Need to Know

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
January 18, 2024

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney, also known as a POA,  is a legal document that gives one person (the "attorney-in-fact") the power to act on behalf of another person (the "principal"). This can include making financial decisions, medical decisions, or personal decisions. There are different types of powers of attorney, each of which grants specific powers to the agent.

A power of attorney is a powerful tool that can provide peace of mind and ensure that your affairs are handled in a way you would want if you were unable to make your own decisions. However, it is crucial to understand the implications of granting a power of attorney before you sign the document.

Suppose you are considering creating a power of attorney. In that case, it is necessary to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your options and ensure the document is drafted to meet your needs.


Types of Powers of Attorney

There are two main types of powers of attorney: 

  1. General power of attorney: This type of power of attorney gives the attorney-in-fact the authority to make decisions for all financial and personal matters on your behalf. 
  2. Limited power of attorney: This type gives the attorney-in-fact the authority to decide on your behalf for specific matters, such as financial or medical decisions. You can also create a springing power of attorney, which only takes effect if you become incapacitated.


Who Can Be a Power of Attorney?

Any adult of sound mind and judgment can be a power of attorney. This includes family members, friends, or even a professional advisor. However, it is essential to choose someone who you trust and who is familiar with your financial affairs.

Suppose you are considering naming a power of attorney. In that case, it is imperative to discuss the role with the person you have chosen. Ensure they understand their responsibilities and are willing to take on the role.

Remembering that a power of attorney can be revoked at any time is equally important. If you decide to revoke a power of attorney, you must do so in writing and sign the document before a witness.


Powers of Attorney and Incapacity

A power of attorney is only valid if the person who created it is still mentally competent. If the person becomes incapacitated, the power of attorney will no longer be valid.

There are a few different ways to determine if someone is incapacitated. One way is to look at their medical history. If the person has a history of mental illness or dementia, it is more likely that they will become incapacitated. Another way to determine if someone is incapacitated is to look at their behaviour. If the person is unable to make decisions for themselves, or if they are acting irrationally, it is more likely that they are incapacitated.

If you are concerned that someone you know may be incapacitated, you should talk to their doctor. The doctor can help you determine if the person is still mentally competent. If the person is incapacitated, you can apply for a guardianship or conservatorship. A guardianship or conservatorship gives you the legal authority to decide for the incapacitated person.


Revoking a Power of Attorney

The principal can revoke a power of attorney at any time, as long as they are still mentally competent. The revocation can be done in writing, signed by the principal, and witnessed by two people. It is important to note that a power of attorney is automatically revoked if the principal dies.


Power of Attorney Costs

The cost of a power of attorney will vary depending on the complexity of the document and the attorney's fees. Generally, you can pay between $100 and $500 for a simple power of attorney. More complex powers of attorney, including medical care or financial management provisions, can cost up to $1,000 or more.

It is important to note that the cost of a power of attorney is not a one-time fee. You must also make annual or periodic payments to maintain the document. These fees can range from $50 to $100 per year.

If you cannot afford the cost of a power of attorney, you may be eligible for government assistance. The Legal Aid Ontario program provides free or low-cost legal services to low-income individuals and families. You can find more information about Legal Aid Ontario on their website.


Power of Attorney Lawyers in Ontario

If you are looking for a power of attorney lawyer in Ontario, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Ensure the lawyer is experienced in estate planning and understands the laws surrounding powers of attorney.
  2. Ask about the lawyer's fees and how they will be charged.
  3. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the lawyer and that you are confident that they can represent your interests.


Power of Attorney Forms

Several different power of attorney forms are available, each with its specific purpose. The most common types of power of attorney forms include:

  • General power of attorney
  • Power of attorney for healthcare
  • Power of attorney for finances
  • Power of attorney for real estate

Choosing the right power of attorney form for your needs is crucial. If you are not sure which form to use, you should consult with an attorney.

You can find power of attorney forms online or at your local law library. You can also download power of attorney forms from the websites of the following organizations:

  • The American Bar Association
  • The National Association of Elder Law Attorneys
  • The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

Once you have chosen a power of attorney form, you must complete it and sign it before two witnesses. The witnesses must be adults who are not related to you by blood or marriage and are not beneficiaries of the power of attorney.

After the power of attorney is signed, it should be filed with the court clerk in the county where you live.


Conclusion

Navigating the legalities of Power of Attorney in Ontario can feel daunting, filled with complex forms, difficult decisions, and the emotional weight of protecting your loved ones' well-being. While online resources offer information, they can't replace a qualified legal professional's personalized guidance and expertise.

At Tabuchi Law, we understand the immense responsibility of granting power of attorney. Our team of compassionate and experienced lawyers will walk you through every step, ensuring your wishes are articulated, legal requirements are met, and your family's best interests are protected. Don't settle for uncertainty.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


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