Making a Power of Attorney under the B.C. Power of Attorney Act allows you to appoint one or more people to manage legal and financial affairs on your behalf during your lifetime. This may be a spouse, parent, adult child or close relative or friend. It’s important to appoint someone you trust. If you are giving power of attorney you are referred to as the “donor” and the person you appoint is the “attorney” and must always perform their duties with your best interests in mind.
Powers of Attorney can be general, allowing your attorney to deal with banks, sign cheques and legal documents on your behalf and sell or transfer any real property you own, but can also be specific to deal with only one particular asset. Most people will make a general Power of Attorney to deal with all of their affairs as needed. Most commonly an Enduring Power of Attorney is made which extends those powers beyond incapacity in the event the donor should become mentally incapable after making the Power of Attorney.
Any adult in B.C. who is mentally competent can make a Power of Attorney. If there is a question of capacity, the adult’s lawyer will typically make an inquiry with the adult’s primary physician as to the adult’s capacity. Some examples of the questions a lawyer may ask the adult’s doctor are:
1. Does the adult have the capability to understand legal documents?
2. Does the adult know who his or her next of kin are?
3. Does the adult know the nature of his or her assets?
4. Does the adult suffer from any delusions which would affect her decision to sign legal documents?
An Enduring Power of Attorney comes into effect the date it is signed by you and your attorney and continues if you are no longer capable of managing your affairs on your own. The Power of Attorney ends on your death and the executor in your Will, which may be the same person, takes over your affairs in accordance with your estate plan.
Deborah A. Todd