Surprise we are in the middle of a pandemic. Surprise everything non-essential is shut down. Surprise you or someone you know gets Covid and ends up in the hospital. Surprise we never got around to doing our Powers of Attorney. We are surrounded by surprises. Now what? Life goes on and who will make that happen?
After going through the last year and a half with COVID it has become even more apparent that POAs (Powers of Attorney) are needed. Why? Because in some cases there are people ending up in the hospital that are not in the right physical and mental condition to know what treatment they should agree to. LawPro has stated that approximately 71% of Canadians do not have a POA. Health care is only one reason you should have a valid POA. What happens to your finances if you end up in the hospital and no one can make decisions on your behalf. Things need to proceed whether you are up for the job or not. Having a properly set up POA can make or break you financially or the health care you ultimately end up with. Our belief is that although Wills are also extremely important, you have to die before the will takes effect so if that happened, your problems are solved. The POA is only effective when you are alive so it has a direct impact on your life and finances.
Unlike a will you cannot have a hand written POA. You can however request the forms from Service Ontario, purchase the forms from a bookstore, get online forms or our preferred method, have a lawyer draw up the POA when you get your will done. There are three types of POAs that every adult should consider in Ontario. The is a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property (CPOA) which covers your financial affairs and allows the person you name to make decisions for you even if you become mentally incapable. The second POA is a non-continuing Power of Attorney. This type would cover your financial affairs for periods of time. If you become mentally incapacitated then this POA would no longer be valid. The third POA is one for Personal Care (POAPC). This POA would cover your personal decisions for housing and health care. Other jurisdiction’s may have something different. You need to check wherever you live.
You can have different people appointed for each of your financial affairs and health care. You can name more than one person so there would be some accountability regarding the decisions made on your behalf. You should consider that whomever you appoint have your best interests at heart. The POA for property must be at least 18 years old and be mentally capable of handling your financial affairs. The POA for Personal Care can be as young as 16 years old but must be mentally capable of acting on your behalf. It is important you really think through who you would want to appoint since these people would have a direct impact about your quality of life and important decisions being made about your health.
On all POAs you can determine what your attorney can make decisions on. Full power or limited. You can have more than one attorney and they can act jointly and severally. You need to make all these decisions while you have the mental capacity to do so. All POAs must be signed and witnessed by two individuals at least 18 years old. Witnesses cannot be one of your immediate family members. If you want to make sure to have valid, properly laid out POAs then seek professional advice from a lawyer. There is so much more to know than what is written in this article. The article is really designed as food for thought and explain why Every Adult Needs to have valid POAs. As always please feel free to contact us if you want to discuss this or anything else that could impact your goals for the future.
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