Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a very different document than a Will. With a Power of Attorney you give the power to your representative (attorney) to look after financial affairs on your behalf while you are alive. Please note that word attorney has nothing to do with a Lawyer. You can appoint any capable adult over the age of 19 to be your attorney. If you are legally incapacitated, your Executor/Executrix cannot help you. Only your Attorney appointed through a valid enduring Power of Attorney has the Power to act on your behalf while you are alive and unable to act for yourself. Similar to a Will, a Power of Attorney can only be made by a mentally competent person.
Power of Attorney is a very powerful document, as it gives the attorney the same power you would have yourself. For example, an attorney can withdraw money from the bank on your behalf or sell your property. Power of Attorney should be given after careful consideration to the person you fully trust. On the other hand, if a person does not have a Power of Attorney and becomes legally incapacitated, the Supreme Court of BC will appoint a committee. Not only can this process be very costly, but the court may also restrict the committee’s powers. For example, the committee may not have powers to sell the person’s house.
Common terms used in a Power of Attorney
Attorney: The person appointed in a Power of Attorney to look after the affairs of the Donor
Donor: The person who is making a Power of Attorney
Committee: The person appointed by way of a Court Order to look after the affairs of a person who has become incapacitated when there has been no Power of Attorney prepared and signed by the Donor
Revocation: Cancellation of a Power of Attorney or a Will