is a written document in which one person (the principal) appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf, thus conferring authority on the agent to perform certain acts or functions on behalf of the principal.

In Ontario, we have two powers of attorney: a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property and a Power of Attorney for Personal Care (often referred to as a ‘living will’). While a will is your instructions after your demise, powers of attorney are your instructions while you are still alive but are for whatever reason incapable of acting for yourself.

The main reason to have powers of attorney is to ensure that upon the grantor's incapacity, the person the grantor appointed as the attorney would act on behalf of the grantor; otherwise the Ontario Government will in effect become the attorney. Your family and loved ones will undoubtedly suffer heartache if you become incapacitated; they will most likely suffer headache as well, due to administrative and bureaucratic obstacles they will encounter if you do not have valid powers of attorney,

Regardless of age or health, powers of attorney are inexpensive, simple documents that can save your family and friends a lot of grief—a worthwhile investment.

FAQs about Powers of Attorney

How long is a power of attorney valid?

A power of attorney is valid until you replace it with a new power of attorney. The grantor is permitted to change powers of attorney at any point, as long as the grantor still has the mental capacity to do so. If, for example, a grantor succumbs to dementia, and it is deemed that the grantor no longer has the capacity to made competent decisions, then the power of attorney cannot be changed without great difficulty.

Can I have more than one power of attorney?

Yes, you can have two or more people as your powers of attorney. Care should be taken, however, to choose individuals who are unlikely to disagree about what your wishes would be if you were capable of making your own decisions.

Who can I appoint to be my power of attorney?

You can choose anybody you wish—a spouse, a different family member, a close friend—as long as the chosen individual is over eighteen years of age. It should go without saying that the person you choose should be somebody you trust implicitly, somebody you know will do what you would have done if you were capable of acting for yourself.

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