As much as we all like to imagine we’ll be physically and mentally capable for the rest of our lives, this isn’t always the case. We’re therefore left with two choices.
To ignore this possibility and face the risk that if we’re wrong, our assets and loved ones are at risk. Or, to actively prepare for this possibility by putting a legal framework in place that will allow someone else to take charge and oversee our affairs.
Most people would agree that the second option is a more attractive prospect, and this is what assigning a power of attorney is all about.
What is a power of attorney for property?
A power of attorney is simply a legal document that passes over rights and responsibilities to a third party.
This arrangement is generally put in place in case you’re one day unable to handle those things yourself — such as a dementia diagnosis. However, there are other cases when assigning a power of attorney is simply a way of making arrangements for when you leave the country or are otherwise unable to manage your affairs.
While a power of attorney is often used for personal affairs, a power of attorney for property is specifically tasked with looking after your real estate. This may include aspects such as:
- Paying monthly bills
- Collecting money on your behalf
- Managing investments or bank accounts
- Running your real estate business for you
- Selling your real estate for you
- Making other real estate investments for you
A general power of attorney for property focuses on financial matters and your property. However, you can also limit someone with power of attorney to more specific responsibilities.
Power of attorney: What you need to know
Most often, the role of attorney goes to family members or close friends. Yet there are no specific limitations on who can do the job, as long as they are mentally competent. Some prefer to appoint a trust company to remove the potential for misuse of the position.
However, there are some constraints on who is allowed to assign one in the first place. To have a power of attorney, you must meet the following criteria:
- At least 18 years old
- Mentally capable
- Knowledgeable about the properties you own and what they’re worth
- Knowledgeable about the concept of appointing an attorney and the possible implications
The requirement of being mentally capable is one reason it’s so important to plan ahead of time. If you wait until you have a dementia diagnosis or similar, it will already be too late to appoint a power of attorney.
Generally, a power of attorney stays in their role until your death (known as a continuous power of attorney). However, it’s also possible to specify how long you want them to perform the role for.
To appoint a power of attorney, the document needs to be signed in front of two witnesses. In Canada, this can be done virtually.
Benefits of a power of attorney
Many people make the mistake of not even considering the need to assign a power of attorney until it’s already too late. At this point, you’ll be unable to make decisions and yet nobody will legally be able to make them on your behalf — causing potential complications for your finances and business.
This could even result in you and your loved ones being left without money or locked out of your assets. In this case, the government will eventually take over through the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, and your family may eventually be able to regain control — but it’s a complicated and stressful process.
Therefore, the best time to assign a power of attorney is before you experience any difficulties in the first place. Translation: Don’t procrastinate any longer.
The benefits of a power of attorney for property are clear — but don’t cut corners by trying to do everything yourself. This is a technical legal process, and your documents need to be clear enough to work in your favor and stand up against the law. The only way to ensure this is by working with a professional.
At J Murray Law, we can help you with the process of setting up a power of attorney in the following ways:
- Assigning a power of attorney for property to protect your real estate
- Specifying the tasks you want a power of attorney to have responsibility for
- Helping you to figure out when a power of attorney should be legally able to let in
- Preparing documents and instructions ready for a power of attorney
Why choose J Murray Law?
At J Murray Law, we understand that assigning a power of attorney is about more than just signing some legal papers and going about your life. It’s hard to imagine a decision more important than determining who will make choices and have control over your properties on your behalf.
That’s why we see this process as a partnership that requires us to listen to you as carefully as you listen to us.
We also take a flexible approach. In Ontario, the power of attorney process can legally take place over video calls, and we’re happy to facilitate this with our clients.
As an Ontario practice, we’re passionate about serving our local community, so we go above and beyond to give our clients the best experience possible. To find out more, just listen to what previous clients have said.
The ball’s in your court
Assigning a power of attorney for property right now might not be at the top of your priorities list — especially if you’re in good health and don’t expect that to change any time soon.
But with so much on the line, why would you take the risk? To find out more about how assigning a power of attorney works, contact J Murray Law and set up your consultation.
DISCLAIMER: This website is for general information purposes only. Readers are cautioned to obtain legal advice as early as possible directly from a lawyer regarding the particular circumstances of their own situation. Do not rely on the information you find here as constituting legal advice as it is not possible to provide complete answers to any given question without a retainer that includes a detailed review of your situation.
A Clear Way Forward
Legal services should make your life easier rather than harder. We’re here to empower you; not to bombard you with information you don’t understand.
At Jeffrey Murray Law, we consider ourselves part of the local community and want to get to know our clients as individuals with their own needs and goals first and foremost.
We’ve consistently demonstrated a commitment to meeting our clients where they are today and adapting to those needs. That means explaining each step of the process in plain English so you understand what’s happening, and we even offer virtual consultations to ensure that your schedule won’t hold you back. For Belleville Lawyers, look no further.