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Guide To Power Of Attorney (POA) In Nova Scotia

In this article:

    What Is A Power Of Attorney In Nova Scotia? 

    One of the most important documents you can have to protect you and your loved ones in the event of an unexpected emergency is a power of attorney. 

    In Nova Scotia, a power of attorney or POA is a legal document that gives someone you trust the authority to make decisions on your behalf and represent you to others. 

    Your POA can make general or limited decisions in the event that you are medically unable to do so yourself. Some common acts include the payment of bills, investments of certain assets, sale of property, or making healthcare decisions. 

    Does giving someone a power of attorney limit your ability to act on your own behalf? 

    You can still act on your own behalf if you give someone power of attorney. You retain authority over your finances and are free to manage your property, money, and investments.

    While the law does not require you to prepare a Power of Attorney document, it is a way for you to choose who will act for you if you are unable to do so. 

    Different Types Of Power Of Attorney: 

    You can choose what powers to give your attorney. There are two levels of responsibility. 

    Different types of power of attorney: 

    • “A general power of attorney” - the authorization for another person to act on your behalf for legal, financial or business matters. There are a few limits on what they can do on your behalf. 
    • “A special power of attorney” - says exactly what you allow your attorney to do on your behalf. It limits what your attorney can do. 

    Why Should I Have A Power Of Attorney In Nova Scotia? 

    Making a power of attorney is an important task that every adult should complete sooner rather than later. 

    An attorney will make decisions about your property, finances, personal life, and medical care in accordance with what you have outlined in your documents. This will protect you in the event of an emergency where you are unable to do so yourself. 

    Other reasons to write a power of attorney include: 

    • You're too sick to handle your finances, and you need someone to manage them for you until you recover.
    • You are unable to move around and wish to allow someone to deposit and withdraw funds from your bank account.
    • You're going on a trip or working away from home and want someone to take care of your finances while you're gone.
    • You've been diagnosed with an illness that will limit your capacity to make decisions and move around in the future, and you want to prepare.
    • You want to establish plans while you're healthy and capable and ready for the unexpected. Competent refers to your ability to make critical judgments on your own. You will be prepared if something happens to impede your ability to manage your affairs or get around.

    Power Of Attorney Documents Benefit Your Loved Ones Too 

    Your power of attorney documents are made to directly protect you, but they also benefit your loved ones who face these challenging times along with you. Your power of attorney documents provides your attorney with important instructions regarding your healthcare and property, instructions that come directly from you. 

    This alleviates the stress on loved ones who may not be prepared to make these decisions during an emotional time and may not know what you would want if you could communicate for yourself. 

    Your power of attorney documents also prevents your loved ones from having to deal with court delays or disagreements between family members who have conflicting views on important decisions. 

    How Do I Get A Power Of Attorney In Nova Scotia?

    It’s easier than you think you make a power of attorney. There are several ways to get a legal power of attorney in Nova Scotia: 

    • Online power of attorney forms - Yes - it is possible to create a POA online!  An online POA is written in plain language, so you don’t have to be a legal expert to create your POA. They are typically cookie-cutter, which unfortunately may not account for your unique situation, or allow for much personalization. 
    • Online power of attorney platforms  - Online platforms like Willful are a convenient, affordable, and simple option to create personalized POA documents. Willful’s dynamic platform asks you all the important questions to ensure your documents reflect your wishes. Willful also includes detailed instructions to ensure that your document is legally-binding in Nova Scotia.
    • Visiting a lawyer - If you have complex wishes or require legal advice, you may want to consider visiting a lawyer. A lawyer can help walk you through any complex details to build a document that best suits your needs. However, a customized POA from a lawyer can be very expensive. 
    Father holding daughter in his arms as they grin at each other.

    Do I Need A Lawyer To Write A Power Of Attorney?

    No. The law in Nova Scotia does not require a lawyer to write your power of attorney, as long as you meet all the legal requirements. You can write your power of attorney yourself, buy a template from a store, or download one from the internet. There are also books and kits available for powers of attorney. 

    What Makes My Power Of Attorney Documents Legal? 

    While you don’t need a lawyer to make your POA documents, there are some criteria you need to meet to make them legal. When creating your power of attorney documents, Willful provides the instructions. 

    Similar to executing a will, when signing your power of attorney documents you will need two witnesses. Witnesses must be present with you when you sign, and they must also sign the documents themselves. 

    The following people cannot be witnesses for your power of attorney: 

    • A spouse, common-law partner, child or someone you treat as your child 
    • Your attorney, or your attorney’s spouse or partner 
    • Anyone who has a “guardian of property” appointment for them by the court because they are not able to manage their property due to medical reasons 
    • Anyone who has a “guardian of the person” appointed for them by a court because mentally they are not able to make personal care decisions 
    • Anyone under the age of majority in Nova Scotia 

    Nova Scotia enduring power of attorney: 

    The Land Titles of Nova Scotia require a notarized EPoA for registration which is a prerequisite to buying, selling, or otherwise transacting in real estate on another’s behalf. 

    A power of attorney is an important legal document which is why it’s best to create one using a trusted platform like Willful, or a professional to make sure that it says what you want.

    Does A Power Of Attorney Need To Be Notarized In Nova Scotia?

    In Nova Scotia, if you own land/property or plan to in the future, you need to get your enduring power of attorney notarized. In plain English: if you own property and your designated attorney may have to buy and sell property in the event you become incapacitated, your POA must be registered with the Land Title and Survey Authority.

    However, you do not need to get this done at the time you execute the document. Your POA is still 100% legally valid if you sign and witness the document properly. At Willful, we say that you can finish your will and power of attorney documents without visiting a lawyer or a notary.

    Learn more about notarizing a power of attorney → 

    If I Give Someone My Power Of Attorney, Can I Still Act On My Own Behalf? 

    Yes, you can still make your own decisions if you give someone power of attorney until you become unable to do so.

    What Are The Duties Of A Power Of Attorney In Nova Scotia? 

    Your power of attorney for property can do anything in relation to property and finances that you could do if you were competent. This includes paying bills, collecting debt, applying for benefits, or selling your assets. 

    A power of attorney for personal care in Nova Scotia can make decisions related to your health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and safety. They are also responsible for communicating your medical wishes to doctors and medical professionals, including pain relief and life support. 

    Your power of attorney must stay within the authority you have given, use reasonable care are skills, act in your best interests, and not profit personally from what is done for you. 

    What Is An Alternate Agent? 

    If the primary agent named is unable or unable to execute their POA duties, an alternate agent can step in. You can name backup or alternate when creating your POA documents.

    What If I Do Not Have An Enduring Power Of Attorney?

    If you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney and become mentally incapacitated and unable to manage your affairs, a relative or friend may petition the court to appoint one to look after your affairs. This may not be the person you would have chosen to take care of your affairs and it can take time to apply.

    Who Can I Make My Attorney?

    Your attorney should be someone who you trust and someone who has good judgement. In Nova Scotia, your attorney must be at least 19 years of age that is mentally competent. 

    You can appoint a lawyer or a trust company if you don't want to give a relative or friend power of attorney.

    Who Can Witness A Power Of Attorney In Nova Scotia?

    In Nova Scotia, power of attorney documents needs to be signed and witnessed in order to be legally binding. The law requires your signature to be witnessed by a competent adult. The witness cannot be the power attorney or the attorney's spouse. The witness must be present and must sign their name on the document. The witness does not need to know what is stated in your POA. 

    Ready to create your power of attorney in Nova Scotia?

    Start your POA for free today → 

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