Estate planning is a complex process that can be made even more difficult if you don’t have a family member you can trust. You need someone to look after your best interests and always prioritize your personal wishes. If you can’t find this person among your family of blood, you can turn to your friends.
A person handing off power of attorney to a friend instead of family is a more common occurrence than you think. Friends can often be closer than many of your blood relatives and have shared many life experiences with you. They likely even know things about you that you aren’t comfortable sharing with family.
When getting your estate together and preparing a power of attorney for care and finance, there is nothing wrong with choosing a friend. He or she will work closely with you and your estate lawyer to make sure that you have everything you need for personal care and finance.
What Is A Power Of Attorney (POA)?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that gives one person (the attorney-in-fact) the power to act for another (principal). Depending on the terms set by the principal, the attorney-in-fact can have the authority to make legal decisions regarding medical care, finances, or property.
POA is most often used when the principal cannot be present to sign legal documents for reasons of injury, illness, or disability. Generally, POAs lapse when the principal passes away or when the principal revokes privileges. Durable POAs enable the attorney-in-fact to manage the principal’s affairs even after incapacitation or death.
A general POA can act on behalf of the principal in any and all matters allowed by the state. Broad responsibilities include handling bank accounts, selling property, filing taxes, and more. In contrast, a limited POA gives the attorney-in-fact power only in certain circumstances. Terms may include limited time frames or specific responsibilities.
Choosing A POA
Your POA will hold significant power over your assets and your estate, so it’s essential to choose carefully. It is neither quick nor easy, and it is not something done just as a favour.
If you are entrusting complex finances to your POA, you should make sure they have the knowledge needed to handle all your accounts and file tax documentation on your behalf. Suppose you are giving them the power to execute your last will and testament. In that case, it’s best to choose someone who is not a beneficiary, so they will remain as objective as possible when distributing your assets.
Ontario law does not require POAs to reside in the state, but processes will go by more efficiently if they can be physically present. If you have assets in other provinces, consider having POAs in every jurisdiction to make sure you are acting per their specific laws and regulations.
Limit the timeframe of the POA if you can. This is because someone who is a suitable POA at one time may no longer be willing or able to act 20 years from now. You should choose at least one alternate or successor.
You will not always be able to make decisions regarding their personal care, finances, and other assets. This is why granting power of attorney to another person is something you should not take lightly. You need to choose someone you can trust and someone who will be dedicated to making the best choices for you.
If you need an estate planning lawyer in Ottawa, Ontario Wills is here for you. We understand that people are in different circumstances, and they require different solutions. We offer various services at affordable prices, and we can discuss what is best for you. Contact us today to learn more about your options!