Posts Tagged ‘Power of Attorney’

how to protect your family as you age header

How to Protect Your Family As You Age

Age isn’t quite what it used to be. 

60 is the new 50, 80 is the new 70. There’s been a considerable amount of talk in the media about “miracle” technological advances that cure all types of ailments and promise to keep us alive well into the triple digits. 

There’s no doubt that some of these advances are real and are actually extending and improving our lives, but there’s one thing they’ll never be able to change: accidents still happen, especially as we age.

According to a report by the Canadian Medical Association, nearly three-quarters of Canadians over 65 have at least one chronic health condition, and unexpected accidents like falls remain a leading cause of hospitalizations for people over 60.

Despite these staggering statistics, many people remain unprepared to deal with what could happen to them and their families if they suddenly become incapacitated by an accident or illness, or when they die. 

Recent polls show that the majority of Canadian adults lack basic estate documents such as wills, representation agreements, or powers of attorney. And, many of those who have them need to update their documents for them to remain legally binding. 

As you get older, not thinking about the very real possibility that something could happen to you means you are putting an unfair burden on your family and leaving them exposed to a number of headaches and responsibilities. 

So what can you do to remedy that? Here are five things you can do right now to protect your family as you age.

1. Write (or update) a Will

Wills are extremely important documents. If you don’t have one (or if things have changed since you wrote it or you’re not sure what’s in it or where it is) you should definitely consider getting one (or a new one) as soon as possible.

Wills allow you to express how you want your estate to be divided and help keep an inventory of what you own. This provides a HUGE help for your family and takes the burden of many decisions off of their shoulders.

Perhaps more importantly, wills allow you to select someone you trust to be in charge of executing your wishes. This helps guarantee that your wishes are actually carried out after you die, and helps organize the division of your stuff once you are gone.

2. Write a Power of Attorney Document

Power of attorney documents allow you to authorize someone else to sign financial or legal documents and act on your behalf. This can also be used to buy and sell assets, and sign tax returns if you are unavailable or incapacitated. 

There are two types of power of attorney. While a specific power of attorney is limited to a single transaction, an enduring general power of attorney allows you to choose someone who will take control of all your legal and financial matters if something were to happen to you.

In addition to this, it is a smart thing to do if you are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia, or degenerative diseases and believe that you may need help managing your daily finances now or in the future.

One small note, a power of attorney doesn’t apply to health care decisions (you’ll need a Representation Agreement for that).

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3. Get a Representation Agreement

Representation Agreements are legal documents that allow a person (or a group of people) to make personal care and health decisions on your behalf.

This allows someone you trust to manage your affairs if you are incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions due to illness, injury, or disability. It also allows you to dictate your specific wishes regarding your physical, emotional and personal needs, including:

  • Choosing who will advocate 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

Without a Representation Agreement, a doctor or health care 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.

A Representation Agreement allows you to choose in advance who you want to represent you. Most people choose 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.

4. Get rid of some of your stuff!

Most people tend to accumulate lots of things throughout their lives. While some of these things may hold sentimental value, they also tend to pile up in basements, attics, and closets and are a hassle to deal with as we get older (not to mention a nightmare for those left to do it after you pass).

Downsizing isn’t as easy as “just getting rid of some stuff”. Letting go of your things can be difficult, but it can also be a very liberating process and one that your family (and future you!) will definitely appreciate.

Going over your things with your family members (especially your kids) is a great way to get the ball rolling on downsizing.

5. Get some legal help!

According to the BC Wills, Estates and Succession Act and the BC Wills Variation Act, which legislate estate succession in British Columbia, there are a number of reasons why your estate documents may be deemed invalid by a court.

For example, there could be undo interference (which is when someone influences the writing of another person’s will); formal invalidity (when proper processes aren’t followed); or a lack of testamentary capacity (when someone doesn’t have the mental capacity to legally sign a will).

Regardless of the reason, if a judge declares that a will is invalid, it’s essentially thrown away.

Draftinging or reviewing your documents with a BC Notary can help to ensure your wishes are followed and documents stand up to scrutiny.

The bottom line: if you haven’t created or reviewed your legal documents lately, now is the perfect time!

About David Watts

David Watts is a BC Notary who has practiced in Downtown Vancouver since 2006.  David’s office specializes in working with people to create their Wills, Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements; as well as performing Real Estate Transfers for properties all around British Columbia.  David has trained to receive the Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA) designation. David has been long-serving Director of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and is currently 2nd Vice President.

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When Do You Need to Hire a Notary?​​​​​​​

A notary public (also known as a notary), is a trained professional who can provide limited legal services to the public.

Notaries have been around for a long time. Babylonian notaries chiselled the oldest written law into stone over 4000 years ago. At that time, notaries were wise and trusted members of society. Their role was to oversee transactions and guarantee their fairness.

The role has since evolved into a professional service, but its essence is still the same. Notaries still guarantee the fairness and legality of transactions.

When Do You Need a Notary?

There are a number of scenarios in which you should consider hiring a notary. These include:

  • If you’re looking to buy or sell a house
  • If you’re looking to transfer a property to a family member
  • If you’re getting a mortgage
  • If you want to write a will, a representation agreement, or a power of attorney
  • If you or your spouse are planning on travelling with your children
  • If you need to sign an affidavit
  • If you’re moving to another country and need documents notarized

Many people think that they should hire a lawyer to do these things. I’ve written about the difference between lawyers and notaries in the past, but here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:

BC Notaries are experts in the areas we choose to practice.  

If we act for you in a residential real estate transaction, for example; our experience will help us to identify issues and deal with them before they become problems.

The Difference Between Lawyers and Notaries

If we do get to a place where litigation is necessary, we have a network of trusted referral partners and we will find a lawyer who’s an expert at litigation.  

What Can Bc Notaries Do for You?

BC Notaries have professional standards dictated by the Notaries Act of BC. They also are governed by the rules, by-laws and best practices dictated by The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia.

That means that at David Watts Notary Public we are certified experts, and can help you with all your notary needs.

1. REAL ESTATE TRANSFERS

We help you complete you with Purchases, Sales, Mortgages and Family Transfers.

2. PERSONAL PLANNING DOCUMENTS

Prepare for the future with Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Representation Agreements.

3. NOTARIZATION

General Notarizations and Certified True Copies of Original Documents as well as Notarize your signature on:

  • Travel Letters
  • Affidavits
  • Statutory Declarations
  • Letters of Invitation
  • Passport Documents
  • Various Applications

4. INTERNATIONAL AUTHENTICATION AND LEGALIZATION SERVICES

Get Documents authenticated and legalized for use in Canada and around the world.

Get In Touch

To find out more including information about our processes and receiving a quote please call or email us.  We are happy to assist you directly or to provide a referral for someone who can help.

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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 – 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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