5 Important Reasons The Best Power Of Attorney Is A Neutral Third Party

5 Reasons The Best Power Of Attorney Is A Neutral Third Party

Finding the right person to grant power of attorney to isn’t always easy.

This person will manage your financial and legal interests, and will hold significant power over your future.

They’ll also be there to  take on a lot of responsibilities, and will need to navigate complex bureaucracy to effectively manage your affairs.

That’s why it’s important that you grant power of attorney to someone who you trust deeply. They need the skills and experience represent your interests if you can no longer do so yourself.

While some people choose family members or friends to act as their attorneys, that’s not always the best option.

You might not have anyone you trust or that has the right qualities and skills needed to do the job.

In those cases, choosing a family member or friend to act as an attorney isn’t the best option.

In these cases, the best power of attorney is a neutral third party.

What is exactly is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney document is extremely important.

It allows you to authorize someone else to sign documents and act on your behalf. The power applies to financial or legal issues, and can also be used to buy and sell assets and sign tax returns if you are out of town or incapacitated.

It doesn’t, however, apply to health care decisions (you’ll need a Representation Agreement for that).

The power granted can take one of two forms:

  • Specific power of attorney: This type of power of attorney allows you to choose someone to manage your affairs for a specific purpose and time period (to authorize someone to sign documents when selling a specific asset, for instance).
  • Enduring general power of attorney: This type of power of attorney allows you to choose an attorney who will take control of all your legal and financial matters if something were to happen to you.

A power of attorney agreement can be cancelled at any time and can be customized to your specific needs and desires.

Types of Power of Attorney

Why do you need a power of attorney?

A power of attorney guarantees that someone you trust will control your finances if you were to become suddenly incapacitated, or suffer from a disease such as Alzheimer’s.

You should seriously consider granting a power of attorney if you:

  • Want to make sure that someone you trust takes care of paying bills and managing your finances if you are incapacitated or out of town.
  • Are getting older and want to put a safeguard in place should something unexpected happen.
  • Believe that you may need help managing your daily finances now or in the future.
  • Are planning to sell a property or asset while living overseas or traveling.
  • Are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia, or degenerative diseases.

Who can you appoint as your attorney?

The only people who can’t be appointed as your power of attorney are people who you pay to be your caregivers.

Otherwise, anyone over the age of 19 who is able to understand the responsibilities involved can do it.

When acting on your behalf, your attorney must act honestly, in good faith and in your best interest. They must also make sure to keep records of any financial activity done on your behalf.

Because your power of attorney will have significant power, it is important to choose somebody you trust and who is comfortable with financial matters.

That’s why you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions before settling on an attorney:

  • Are they knowledgeable about taxes and the responsibilities?
  • Are they organized and meet deadlines?
  • Will they be willing to devote their time to manage your affairs?
  • Can they set their emotions apart and get the job done?
  • Do you want to burden them with the responsibility of managing your financial and legal interests?

A lot of people fail to ask these questions and choose their spouse, a family member or a friend to act as their attorney. While on paper this may sound like a good decision, loved ones aren’t always the best choice for power of attorney.

Before Choosing A Power Of Attorney

They may not have the experience or expertise required to do the job, or may not be able to handle the many responsibilities that go with being an attorney.

That’s why a trusted professional or company is a great alternative.

Experienced professionals who act in your best interests may be a great option to consider. Since they fully understand the rules and responsibilities of being an attorney, they are your best choice to make sure that all your affairs are handled in a timely and efficient manner.

At David Watts Notary Public, we can act on your behalf as your power of attorney; or find someone who is appropriate for you.

Why You Should Grant Power Of Attorney To A Neutral Third Party

1. They have the right skills

Professionals that have the skills and knowledge to be great attorneys may be notary publics, lawyers, and accountants who work together to make sure all aspects of your affairs are dealt with.

2. They understand their responsibilities

Choosing a loved one as your attorney means burdening them with a number of new responsibilities that they may not understand or want.

Neutral third party attorneys are well aware of their responsibilities and know how to navigate legal and financial bureaucracy.

3. Efficiency

Having the rights skill set and understanding the responsibilities of being an attorney allow professionals to act effectively on your behalf, making sure your legal and financial affairs are dealt with in a timely and cost-effective manner.

4. They’re familiar with your financial situation and obligations

Being familiar with the person’s overall financial picture and obligations make it much easier for a third party attorney to make correct decisions on your behalf.

5. They aren’t clouded by emotions

Making financial decisions is never easy, but it gets even harder when emotions are involved. That’s why choosing a choosing a loved one to be your attorney may actually cause more pain than you intend.

Settling on a professional to act as your attorney will help balance emotions in the way in which your money is administered.

How do I grant power of attorney?

In British Columbia, granting a power of attorney to someone is not a difficult process and information is readily available.

Getting professional help from a BC Notary or lawyer will allow you to get good advice on how to successfully grant a power, and who to grant it to.

Get in touch if you have questions or need help with deciding who should be your Power of Attorney.

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3 Reasons Smart Baby Boomers Get A Representation Agreement

3 Reasons Smart Baby Boomers Get A Representation Agreement

Representation Agreements let you decide in advance who can make health decisions for you in the event you can’t make them yourself.

The golden years offer very different opportunities then they have in the past.

Many Boomers live long lives and are very active. And while the spirit may still feel young, the body, unfortunately, doesn’t always get the memo.

As people grow older, the chances of having accidents or suffering serious health issues grow significantly.

According to a report by the Canadian Medical Association, nearly three-quarters of Canadians over 65 have at least one chronic health condition. The report also states that 62% of hospitalizations for Boomers are due to unexpected falls.

As you get older you need to be ready for the very real possibility that something could happen. A situation may arise leaving you incapacitated and unable to make health decisions for yourself. 

What is a Representation Agreement?

A Representation Agreement is a legal document that allows a person (or a group of people) to make personal care and health decisions for someone else.

This allows someone you trust to manage your affairs if you are incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions due to illness, injury, or disability.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you need a Representation Agreement, here’s 3 great reasons…

1. You Choose The Person (Or People) To Represent You

Without a Representation Agreement, a doctor or healthcare provider will choose your Temporary Substitute Decision Maker (TSDM) if you can’t make your own decisions.

This person is selected based on the Health Care Consent Act. Your spouse would be the first choice, followed by one of your children.

Your TSDM is required by law to make decisions based on your best interests. However, this person may not necessarily be the person you want, or may not know what type of care or treatment you would prefer.

The Role of a Representative

A Representation Agreement allows you to choose in advance who you want to represent you. The only people who can’t be appointed as representatives are paid caregivers.

Most people chose a spouse, partner, friend or family member in their representation agreement. 

The representative’s main responsibility is to assist a person to make a decision for themselves. This means that before making any decision, the representative is legally obligated to try to determine your current wishes.

If you are completely incapacitated and your current wishes cannot be determined, then your representative will follow what has been outlined in your Representation Agreement.

As a last resort, the representative will make a decision based on what they think is in your best interest while consistent with your values.

2. You Have Control Of The Important Decisions

A Representation Agreement will allow you to dictate your specific wishes regarding your physical, emotional and personal needs. These include:

  • Advocating for you
  • Giving or withholding consent for medical treatments
  • Where you will live (and with whom)
  • Whether to admit or discharge you from a care facility
  • Planning of support and services
  • Who has visitation rights
  • Care staff management
  • Spiritual matters
  • Whether you want to refuse CPR or have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)
  • End of life decision making
  • Diet and grooming
  • Care of pets
  • Participation in activities and exercise

Peace of mind

Without a Representation Agreement, your TSDM is unable to make any of these decisions on your behalf. Their power is limited to immediate minor and major healthcare decisions such as surgeries and routine treatments.

With a Representation Agreement, you have the peace of mind that your wishes and beliefs will be carried out if you are incapacitated.

3. It’s Less Stress For Loved Ones

When someone you love experiences a serious health issue it’s stressful, and depending on the severity, often heartbreaking. The last thing anyone needs is additional stress during this time.

The benefit in organizing a Representation Agreement in advance is that you have made a plan, selected the right person (or people) for the task and discussed it with them prior to the document being signed.

In the unfortunate event that something does happen that requires the Representation Agreement to take effect, your loved ones are adequately prepared.

You Are Prepared

Types of Representation Agreements

There are two types of Representation Agreements:

Standard Powers (Section 7)

A Section 7 Representation Agreement allows a chosen representative to take control over minor and major health care, personal care, legal affairs and routine financial affairs.

Someone can sign this type of Representation Agreement even if they cannot manage their own affairs or make decisions independently, which is why it’s purposefully limited.

It does not hand over responsibility for larger decisions regarding finance and end of life options.

A Section 7 Agreement requires a lesser degree of mental capacity when signing and may be appropriate for people with diminished capacity who need day to day help.

Enhanced Powers (Section 9)

Section 9 Representation Agreements are much broader in scope and are signed before there is any question regarding a person’s mental capability or competency.

These agreements are comprehensive and grant representative powers regarding all health matters, including end of life decision making.

The 2 Types of Representation Agreements

Next Steps

The important things to consider in moving forward are who you would want to name as your decision maker(s).  You may name an alternate should the person you choose be unable to act when called upon.  Your Notary can help guide you, discuss the process and answer questions when we meet.

To find out more including information about our process and receiving a quote for us to provide this service; please call or email us.  We are happy to assist you directly or to provide a referral for a notary or lawyer in your area.

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First Time Homebuyers Guide to Real Estate Closing Costs

The First Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Real Estate Purchase Closing Costs In Vancouver

Buying your first house is an exciting (and sometimes nerve-wracking) time.

When you’ve never purchased property before, you might be surprised when you find out about some of the costs associated with closing a deal.

Budgeting for these costs is important because you’ll be required to show proof you have the funds to cover your downpayment and closing costs to secure your mortgage.

This guide will help save you from being surprised by unexpected closing costs.

1. Mortgage Costs

Mortgage Costs

Mortgage Application Fee

If you’re applying for a mortgage, your bank or lender may also charge a mortgage application fee, though usually only with private rather than institutional lenders.  Keep this in mind when you are shopping around for mortgages.

BC HOME Partnership Program

When you are borrowing a portion of your down payment through the BC Home Owner Mortgage and Equity (HOME) Partnership Program, there will be additional fees of $560  for their lawyer fees to complete the loan.

Thankfully this isn’t something that you have to pay upfront, it is added to your loan.

Mortgage Default Insurance

If you’re taking out a mortgage for over 80% of the appraised value of the house, you will also have to take out a mortgage default insurance. Here is a link to the premium calculator for Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

This ensures that the bank will not lose any money if you cannot make your mortgage payments and the value of your home is not sufficient to repay your debt.

Appraisal Fee

If the bank requires an appraisal of the home before approving your loan, you will probably have to pay the appraiser’s fee.

Survey Fee

Property boundaries and compliance cannot usually be determined without an up to date Survey Certificate.  A survey is prepared by a Land Surveyor and the cost varies depending on the region.  Your bank may also require that you present a survey certificate that shows exactly where the boundaries of the property are and where the buildings fall within them.

If the previous owners can’t provide this certificate, you’ll have to pay for the surveyor’s fee.

Title Insurance

Many lenders require title insurance before they will advance mortgage funds.

Title Insurance may insure the Lender and the Owner in the event of defects in title that are not readily apparent.  If you wish to have further information on Title Insurance, please contact my office and I will give you the information to contact a title insurance provider so that you may discuss the limits of coverage with them.

2. Government Taxes

Government Fees

Property Transfer Tax

In B.C., the provincial government collects a property transfer tax that must be paid before any home can be legally transferred to a new owner.

The Property Transfer Tax (PTT) is a tax of 1% on the first $200,000, 2% on the value up to $2,000,000 and 3% of the remaining value of the purchase price.

Some buyers (including qualified first-time buyers) may be exempt from this tax.

Property Tax and Municipal Utilities

This cost catches many people by surprise.

If the current owners have already paid the city in full for the house’s yearly property tax (and utilities if billed separately), then you will have to reimburse them for your share of the year’s taxes.

GST

If the home you are purchasing is newly constructed or substantially renovated, you may have to pay 5% of the purchasing price on GST. However, there are some rebates available, depending on the value of the home.

Foreign Buyer’s Property Tax

In B.C., the government has introduced an additional 15% property transfer tax on foreign nationals, corporations, and trusts that are buying in Metro Vancouver.

The tax does not apply to Canadian citizens or permanent residents or foreigners living in Canada on a work permit.

3. Other Fees

Other Fees

Home Inspection Fees

While it’s not necessary to have a home inspection, it’s a good investment to make sure you don’t unknowingly become responsible for any major defects of the property.

Legal Closing Fees

During the purchase process, you will need to hire notary public or a lawyer that will review the contract and title; prepare documentation necessary for the transaction, handle the exchange of funds and register the application to transfer ownership of the property as well as secure the new mortgage. They will charge a fee for their services and disbursements for due diligence requirements.  Fees vary from office to office, but are fairly consistent as there is competition is providing this service.  You will hear the term “Conveyance” or “Conveyancing” which refers to this process and loosely means to convey legal title of the property from Seller to Buyer.

Land Title Registration Fee

Whenever a title is registered with B.C. Land and Survey, a small fee must be paid. Normally (but not always) this fee is paid for by the lawyer or notary public and included as a disbursement on their accounts.

Utility Bills

You may be required to reimburse the seller for any utilities (water, sewerage, garbage, recycling, drainage) paid to the city in advance.

Strata Fees

Check with the Strata to find out when your fees are due as you may have to pay them soon after you move in.

General moving costs and “Move In” Fees.

Moving house costs money. Whether you hire a moving company, or hire a truck and move yourself, you are going to have out of pocket expenses.  Many Condominiums in Vancouver also have “Move In” fees.  Your notary or lawyer will generally pay these on your behalf.

You may also be required to pay for connecting your new utilities in your new home.

Got more questions?

If you have any questions regarding closing costs or need assistance with your Real Estate transfer, we can help.

Contact our office for further information, for a quote on your transaction and to make an appointment for your real estate closing.

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Why Your Child Needs a Travel Consent Letter (Even If They Are with You)

As a parent, one of the most enriching gifts you can give your kids is the gift of travel.

Travel is a fun and exciting time for children. Visiting new places and seeing different cultures opens their eyes to experience the world in a new way. 

Studies have shown that travelling provides social and neurological benefits for children, and teaches them positive life lessons that can stay with them for the rest of their lives. 

But before you pack their bags and take them to the airport, you might need to take care of a little extra paperwork.

Unless a child travels with both parents, a travel consent letter ensures your child will get to their destination and back without delays from authorities.

What Is A Travel Consent Letter?

Travel consent letters are documents designed to protect children from abduction and trafficking.

They demonstrate that children who travel alone, with only one parent/guardian, with friends, relatives, or groups (e.g. sports, school, musical, religious) have been given permission to travel by all of their parents (or guardians).

While Canada does not legally require that children carry a travel consent letter when travelling, it’s an asset, especially on international trips where it may be requested by:

  • Immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country.
  • Airline agents.
  • Canadian officials when re-entering Canada.

Failure to produce a letter upon request may result in delays or refusal to enter or exit a country.

When Do You Need A Travel Consent Letter?

Travel consent letters aren’t only for minors travelling alone or with people other than their parents. If a child is travelling with only one of their parents, they should have a travel consent letter.

At any given time, Canada deals with an estimated 300 cases of parental abductions. The letter proves the legitimacy of the travel and protects the travelling parent from further investigation.

When the child is travelling with both birth parents, a travel consent letter is not necessarily needed. One should be carried following circumstances:

  • They are travelling with only one parent as that parent is single, separated or divorced.
  • They are travelling with parents who have different last names.
  • The parents are travelling together but will travel separately with the child for a portion of the trip.
  • The children are travelling alone or with a school, tour groups, sports team or social group.
  • The children are travelling with grandparents, other family members or friends who are accompanying children without their parents present.

What Ages Require A Travel Consent Letter?

The age requirement for a travel consent letter depends on your country of destination. 

In most cases, anyone considered a minor may need a travel consent letter to enter or exit a country on their own, or with only one parent/guardian.

In some cases, that may mean anyone under the age of 21, 19 or 18. 

What Destinations Require A Travel Consent Letter?

While it is common for Canadian authorities to ask for a travel consent letter to begin travel, some countries may also require one to enter or leave. Some countries are stricter than others when dealing with letters of consent.

Countries requiring travel consent letter include (but are not limited to):

  • Australia
  • Costa Rica
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • USA

It’s also smart to have your travel consent letter notarized as some countries require it.

Always check with the consulate of the countries you are visiting before your child begins their journey.

What To Include On A Travel Consent Letter

According to the Government of Canada, a travel consent letter should include the following information:

  • Names of the children with their passport number, country of issue, place and date of birth, birth certificate number and country of birth.  
  • Full names and contact information for each parent.
  • Name, passport number and relationship to the child of the adult responsible for travelling with the child.
  • Travel dates and details of the trip including contact information for where the child will be staying.
  • Signatures of the parent(s) providing consent signed in the presence of a notary public.

In general, travel consent letter are only valid for the trip in which they are used; however, they may be tailored if you take frequent short tips across the border and would still indicate a travel period, such as being valid for 1 year.  

Most times a child travels without both of their parents, they will need a new travel consent letter.

Additional Travel Documentation May Be Required

It’s always important to check regulations with the consulates of countries you are visiting, as there may be stricter travel requirements.

For example, depending on the parental situation, the following documents may be required:

  • The long form birth certificates showing both parent’s full names.
  • A death certificate in the case where one parent is deceased.
  • The court order in the case where one parent has been denied access rights.
  • A court order stating the accompanying person is the child’s guardian or custodian.
  • An original travel consent letter translated into the language of the country being visited.

Travelling With Children Checklist

1. Determine who your children are travelling with

If it’s both their parents (or guardians) on every leg of the journey, bring birth certificates to show you are both their parents. Otherwise…

2. Contact the Consultant of the countries being visited

Find out the different types of travel documents you may be required to provide.

3. Make sure everyone travelling have their passports and appropriate visas

For peace of mind, passports should have an expiry date over 6 months away. Take photocopies that are stored in separate luggage in case they are lost or stolen.

4. Have both parents complete travel consent letters

You can download templates here:

5. For travel with adults other than the parent, consider a representation agreement

Representation agreements allow the adult to make emergency health decisions for your child on your behalf.

6. Contact Us

Most countries require the travel consent letter (and representation agreements) to be notarized.  BC Notaries can help you to draft and/or sign your travel consent letter.  Phone or email and we can provide a template, draft a letter and/or schedule your signing appointment.

Now that the important paperwork is taken care of, your kids can have a great trip!

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Should I use a BC Notary or A Lawyer?

man signing document with shadow behind him

It’s impossible to guess how many people have asked me that question.

If I had to, I think the number is probably in the hundreds.

It’s a great question.

So let’s start at the beginning…

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