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Designating a power of attorney

If you're unable to make decisions for yourself, having granted a continuing power of attorney to someone you trust can simplify your financial affairs. Just as a will provides for management of an estate after death, a continuing power of attorney can provide for management of your affairs if you're incapacitated.

Types of attorney

There are two basic types of power of attorney.

  • Financial – a continuing power of attorney for property allows your attorney to manage your finances and property, including pension-related matters, if you become mentally incapable.
  • Personal care – an attorney for personal care makes medical and other decisions about your well-being and quality of life on your behalf if you aren't able to make them yourself.

Three things to consider

You don't have to designate a continuing power of attorney, but here are three reasons why you should:

  1. You're ensuring decisions made on your behalf are made by someone who you know and trust.
  2. It's a simple process and you can do it at any time. Wills and powers of attorney are often drawn up at the same time.
  3. You'll reduce red tape by having a validated continuing power of attorney on file with us. If you become mentally incapable and this is a condition specified in the document, all we'll need is a doctor's confirmation of incapacity to allow your designated attorney to take charge of your pension on your behalf.

Who to appoint

Power of attorney usually gives the person or persons authority to act on your behalf, so the person should be selected with care. The actions of the individual you've authorized are binding on you, but there's an obligation for the person to act in your best interest.

You can grant power of attorney to anyone who is at least 18 years of age and mentally competent. The person doesn't have to be a lawyer and is often the spouse or an adult child.

It's important to discuss your wishes with the person to whom you grant power of attorney so they can manage your affairs with your wishes in mind.

Other things you should consider:

  • Choosing someone who lives close enough to be able to deal with situations easily.
  • Naming more than one person to act jointly or severally. Jointly means all would have to sign documents to make them legal. Severally means any of the named individuals could act alone on your behalf.

Consulting with a lawyer

You may wish to consider hiring a lawyer. They can advise you on drawing up specific conditions and limitations in the granting of power of attorney and may also raise issues you may not have considered.

What we require 

To add a power of attorney to your account, please provide us with:

  • A complete copy of the power of attorney, making sure it shows all signatures and dates; and
  • Current contact information for the attorney (i.e., phone number, email and home address).