If you’re here, you’ve probably been named as a power of attorney for property – so what next?
If you’ve never acted as a POA before (which most people haven’t!) you might be wondering what that means for you. In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the responsibilities as a power of attorney for property.
What Is A Power Of Attorney For Property?
The person appointed in a power of attorney for property helps make decisions related to property and finances on behalf of the person who made the document, in the event they are unable to do so themselves. The person who made the legal document is typically referred to as the ‘grantor’, ‘donor’, of ‘maker’.
You may also know this document as an enduring power of attorney. This document and the role itself has different names across Canada. Here is a breakdown on power of attorney by province.
Why Would Someone Appoint Me As An Attorney For Property?
Power of attorney for property is a legal document that gives someone you trust the ability to make decisions on their behalf. If you’ve been appointed as an attorney (in this situation, attorney does not refer to a lawyer), the maker of the document is trusting you to represent them in the event they are incapacitated, specifically for property, legal, and financial decisions.
They have likely made this decision based on their relationship with you, your ability to make critical decisions, and their wishes. The grantor has also likely named an attorney for personal care to cover healthcare related decisions.
What Are The Duties And Responsibilities Of An Attorney For Property?
As an attorney for property, your responsibility is to manage the property and financial affairs of the grantor on their behalf. This often includes tasks such as:
- Paying bills
- Maintaining property
- Collecting any debts owed
- Applying for benefits
- Selling/rent/renovate property (if necessary)
Note that the ability to care for someone else’ dependants is not granted by power of attorney documents, but may be able to support dependants by stepping into the shoes of the grantor by paying for schooling or activities if that was something that was done prior to incapacitation.
Each individual may have their own wishes for their attorneys. If you know ahead of time that you’ve been nominated as an attorney, it’s important to discuss these wishes with the maker of the document. This way, you can feel educated and confident to take on the responsibilities in the event of you are called upon.
When Does Power Of Attorney For Property Come Into Effect?
Power of attorney for property comes into effect when the grantor or maker of the document becomes infirm, unable to communicate, or otherwise mentally incapable. This can happen for many reasons, including after accidents or medical emergencies.
Power of attorney is a legal document that you hope never has to come into effect and for many people it never does. An attorney nominated in a POA maintains their power to act until the grantor becomes mentally capable again or passes away. If they pass away, a will then comes into effect.
If a power of attorney for property is never selected, a family would need to apply to become a court-appointed guardian to take on a similar role.
Do I Have To Accept The Role Of Attorney For Property?
No – even if you’re named as an attorney on a POA, you do not need to accept the role if you are unable or unwilling. This can be a large responsibility, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the role.
However, if someone lets you know that they would like to name you as their attorney, it’s important to let them know if you are uncomfortable with the role sooner rather than later. This way they can choose another person and update their documents accordingly.
If the grantor has created their documents with Willful, they will likely also have picked a backup – just in case!
Please note that Willful is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice. All information in our Learn Centre is general and public information can also be researched through your provincial Attorney General website.