Have you ever used a power of attorney in Brazil? If so, you might’ve been frustrated by a tangle of red tape. Perhaps the document’s wording wasn’t quite right, or maybe the bank teller didn’t feel like accepting it. Such bureaucratic hassles aren’t unique to Brazil and using powers of attorney can be complicated in many jurisdictions.
The good news is that in Canada the process is much smoother. When prepared correctly, a power of attorney can grant full legal and financial decision-making powers to someone on your behalf (if that’s your intention) and remain valid everywhere. Because it’s so accessible and effective, a power of attorney is a simple and inexpensive way to prepare for the unexpected.
|Types of Powers of Attorney|
|General||Activates immediately and ends if you become incapable of making decisions|
|Enduring||Activates immediately and continues if you become incapable of making decisions|
|Limited||Effective for a specific time or purpose|
Versatile Planning Document
When creating a power of attorney, you select the attorney, that is, the person whom you are granting power to, and specify the areas they’ll have authority over. Some examples are finances, property, legal matters, and more. You also determine the level of authority they’ll have. In addition, you choose when the document becomes effective and for how long.
Selecting your attorney is an important decision. I recommend choosing someone you trust, someone who is a good decision maker with a solid financial track record.
Why Use a Power of Attorney?
There are many scenarios where a power of attorney is useful. Some of my clients use limited or general powers of attorney to make sure their bills get paid while they’re on vacation. Others use them to look after real estate transactions when they are out of the country.
More popular though, are enduring powers of attorney, where authority remains in effect even if you were to become incapable of making decisions—due to an accident, illness, or other unforeseen events. In my practice, I’ve prepared powers of attorney for many young, healthy people who want to plan for these scenarios and ensure their legal and financial affairs are in order. Without a power of attorney, your family might have to go to court to secure the legal rights to manage your affairs.
Creating a Power of Attorney in Canada
While the red tape isn’t at Brazilian levels, expect to encounter some procedures from Canadian institutions as they check the credibility of your planning documents. Banks will ask for a copy of your POA for their files, and have their legal departments verify its legitimacy.
Likewise, a real estate power of attorney also needs to be registered with the relevant authorities. In BC, for example, a power of attorney needs to be shared with the Land Title Office before it becomes effective.
Planning Brings Peace of Mind
A power of attorney is an important part of personal planning, and making one can bring you peace of mind, so you can take comfort in the knowledge that you’ve made the necessary preparations. If you’re interested in learning more, make an appointment with your local notary or legal professional. They can draft a valid power of attorney to suit your needs and guide you through the necessary arrangements with applicable institutions.
Flavia Zancope is certified Notary Public