power of attorney

Section 20(5) of the Power of Attorney Act gives the attorney the power to designate or change a beneficiary on behalf of the adult. This power does not extend to changing a beneficiary in a will but could apply to other assets where there is a named beneficiary.

This power may only be exercised with the approval of the court and applies to all non-will beneficiary designations including insurance instruments.

An attorney is prohibited from making or changing an adult’s will but if the Power of Attorney expressly authorizes a general power from the adult to gift, this may enable the attorney to substantially alter the adult’s estate during their lifetime. Because of this an adult must be very careful before authorizing a broad power to gift in their Power of Attorney.

Victoria Lawyer, Deborah Todd
Deborah A. Todd