So you are wondering if you should make an Enduring Power of Attorney, but don’t know where to start.
To begin such a journey, you need to first understand what an Enduring Power of Attorney is. An Enduring Power of Attorney (also known as a Continuing Power of Attorney in Ontario) is a legal document that takes affect when you are alive, but lack mental capacity. The document allows you (also known as the Donor/Grantor) to appoint a person/persons to handle your financial matters when you are unable to do so. Each province and territory in Canada have legislation permitting and recognizing the validity of making such a document.
An Enduring Power of Attorney typically takes affect when you lack capacity and ends either when you regain capacity or you pass away. This means that it can be temporary (used when you are recovering from an injury or illness) or permanent (meaning you are permanently injured or suffering from a progressive disease that robs you of your mental abilities).
So what happens if you have an accident or suffer from an illness that deprives you of your mental capacity? Well, if you didn’t prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney while you were able to do so, then a family member would have to apply to become your Trustee/Guardian. Such an application is very time consuming and extremely costly. A few years ago in the Province of Alberta, it was already difficult to find a lawyer who was willing to take on such an application without requiring an initial retainer of $5,000-$10,000 just to get started. To make matters worse, it often takes closer to years to have a person declared as your Trustee in the court system as it is typical to see family members disagree in this process.
On the other hand, if you had prepared an Enduring Power of Attorney while you were mentally capable, then upon your infirmity, your named Attorney would begin to act on your behalf with ease. The only cost and time consumed was your initial investment of the money and time it took to create the document.
Bottom line, to save yourself and others money and time, it is wise to prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney.
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