Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Enduring power of attorney

Powers of attorney are simple and flexible, and can usually be used in all Canadian provinces. When you give someone power of attorney you give that person legal authority to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. This might include paying bills, depositing or withdrawing money, investing money, or selling your house.

People make a power of attorney appointment for many reasons: for example, because they are physically unable to look after their affairs as a result of extended travel or an injury or because they have some degree of cognitive impairment and require some assistance in managing their affairs.

A power of attorney designation automatically ends if the person becomes mentally incapacitated, unless a sentence is added specifically stating that the power of attorney is to continue and may be exercised during any subsequent mental infirmity. This is known as an enduring power of attorney. It is a simple and inexpensive way to plan ahead and choose who will help with making financial decisions. If the person becomes mentally incapable‖ and there is no enduring power of attorney in place, then family members may find that they have to go to court to get the legal right to manage the affairs of the individual in question. This involves applying for a court order for committeeship, which is a much more costly process than drawing up the relevant and appropriately worded documents beforehand.

An enduring power of attorney can be given to more than one person. If  this is done, you must indicate in the document whether they will act together or if they may act individually. (For instance, do both of them have to sign any papers, or can either one sign?)

The enduring power of attorney confers significant power, so it is important to make sure that all parties trust each other, understand and can support each other’s values and preferences, and are comfortable dealing with financial matters.