A Power of Attorney is a written document which allows you to appoint an “attorney or attorneys” to act on your behalf. It essentially gives the attorney(s) the same powers that you have to deal with your assets and your personal care. A Power of Attorney is only valid after it is signed until it is revoked or the person who gave it (the “Grantor”) dies. A Power of Attorney does not operate after the Grantor dies.
Powers of Attorneys are usually granted to allow the attorney(s) to make decisions on your behalf in the event you become unable to make those decisions on your own at some future time.
Powers of Attorney are very powerful documents and should only be given after careful consideration to individuals that are completely trustworthy. It is wise to leave them in your lawyers vault so they cannot be accessed by the Attorney(s) until you want them released. It is important to understand that Powers of Attorney are capable of being used as soon as they are signed.
Because a Power of Attorney is effective until death (unless it is earlier revoked) and a Will is effective on and after death, it is advisable to have a Will and Powers of Attorneys.
A Power of Attorney can operate both before and after the incapacitation of the Grantor.
There are two types of Powers of Attorneys: Power of Attorney for Personal Care (“PAPC”) and Powers of Attorney for Property (“PAP”).
PAPC usually give the attorney power to make decisions about the personal care of the Grantor, such as health decisions, and decisions about whether the Grantor should be moved into a nursing home.
PAP usually give the attorney power to make decisions about the property and liabilities of the Grantor, such as decisions to sell a house or car, or to write cheques on the Grantor’s accounts.
Powers of Attorney can be restricted as much as you like. They can be limited to a certain time period or to a certain asset. Consult with your legal advisor to understand how your Power of Attorney should be limited.
The term “living Will” is actually a misnomer because it actually refers to a power of attorney for personal care (and not a Will) which contains language which directs the Attorney to allow the Donor to die in dignity and without pain should the Donor’s condition be critical and irreversible. There may be specific language requesting a DNR (do not resuscitate) in certain circumstances.