What is a Power of Attorney?

Dear Mr./Ms. Lawyer,

I was recently named as my mothers Power of Attorney. I don't understand what this means and how I would be her “Attorney." Aren’t you an Attorney? Please explain this to me.

Mrs. Wilson


Dear Mrs. Wilson,

Yes, I am a lawyer. but not an "Attorney” in the sense you are enquiring about. A Power of Attorney is a legal document created during a person's lifetime respecting their Property and/or Personal Gare.A Power of Attorney names the person or persons who are legally entitled to act on your behalf if you become incapable. Incapacity is generally determined by those persons designated under the legislation overseeing these matters.

A Power of Attorney is effective the moment it is signed. and therefore it is often kept in safekeeping by the lawyer who prepared it. There are strict instructions for its release to another person. A Power of Attorney can be revoked at anytime. provided that the person is still capable. It is a very powerful document and you will have ternendous responsibilities if and when you are called upon to act on your mother’s behalf. At that time, I would be happy to provide advice to you respecting your duties.

If your mother had not prepared these documents and had become incapable, the Public Guardian and Trustees office would become involved and you would have to endure the trouble and expense of regaining the authority to look after your mother's heath decisions and financial affairs. You are fortunate that your mother had the foresight in having these documents prepared. It will make your life much easier if and when your mother becomes incapable.

Yours very truly,
Mr./Ms. Lawyer

Estate planning involves careful consideration of your life circumstances and the interplay of the law. Meeting with a cornpetent lawyer who can navigate you though these considerations is paramount.

This article is not to be construed as legal advice. You are encouraged to consult a professional.