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Power of Attorney


What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf, should you become incapable or require their support.


What does the term “attorney” mean?

The term refers to the person or persons you have chosen to act on your behalf who is called your “attorney”. He or she does not have to be a lawyer.


What powers will my attorney have?

Financial: Unless you restrict your attorney’s powers, he or she will be able to do almost anything that you can do concerning your finances. Your attorney can sign documents, start or defend a lawsuit, sell property, make investments and purchase things for you.

Your attorney cannot, however, make a Will or give a new Power of Attorney on your behalf.

Personal Care: They have power to make decisions regarding your care and your living arrangements if you are deemed incapable of doing this. The attorney should make decisions based on the person’s formerly expressed wishes or, if this information is not available, on what the person would likely have chosen to do in similar circumstances.


Types of Power of Attorney

Continuing Power of Attorney for Property: A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property covers your financial affairs and allows the person you name to act for you even if you become mentally incapable.

Power of Attorney for Personal Care: A Power of Attorney for Personal Care covers your personal decisions, such as housing and health care.

Non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property: A Non-continuing Power of Attorney for Property covers your financial affairs but can’t be used if you become mentally incapable. You might give this Power of Attorney, for example, if you need someone to look after your financial transactions while you’re away from home for an extended period of time.


If there is more than one Power of Attorney, which one is valid?

The most recent Continuing Power of Attorney (CPOA) is valid unless you state, in that document, that you intend to have more than one CPOA.


If there is no Power of Attorney for either property or personal care?

If there is no Power of Attorney then the government has through the Substitute Decision Makers Act, indicated a hierarchy of people who would be able to act for you if you are incapable. In order they are: spouse or common-law spouse, children (in unison), parents, siblings, other relatives. A family member can apply through the courts to become “guardian” of property.

The government, through the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, acts only in situations where no other suitable person is available, able and willing.


What does the term “mentally incapable” mean?

It means that a person can’t understand information about his or her property or finances or is unable to appreciate what could happen as a result of making a certain decision (or not making a decision ) about these issues.


For more information please go to:

Introduction to Powers of Attorney at ACE (Advocacy Centre for the Elderly)
Power of Attorney and Living Wills at the Ministry of the Attorney General