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Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney are not new but have gotten a lot of press lately. Powers of Attorney are simply an agency agreement. Traditionally agency agreements expired upon being revoked by the donor (the person giving the attorney) or when the donor became incompetent. In the 1970s the Government passed the Powers of Attorney Act, to allow Agency agreements to survive incompetence of the donor so that people could pick someone to manage there affairs if they became incompetent. Traditionally the Government always became the manager of a persons estate if they became incompetent and there was legislation to allow the family to become guardians.

Much of the press concerning Powers of Attorney came with the Introduction of the Substitute Decision Act. The Substitute Decisions Act did a lot and at the same time little. That is to say that it continued Powers of Attorney which traditionally governed the management of property and added Powers of Attorney for Personal care, a relatively new legal concept. In addition, the Act introduced abbreviated proceeds for the family to be appointed as Guardians of the Person or Property in the event a person became incompetent without having an Attorney. In the event a person became incompetent without a Power of Attorney and no family was willing to step forward the Public Trustee and Guardian's Office would be appointed the Guardian of the incompetent persons property and person.

Powers of Attorney carry with them the same formality as Wills and carry many additional risks that a person should be aware of before having them signed. This is an area where advice is definitely warranted from a lawyer. However, that said having a Power of Attorney is in most circumstances a very good idea provided certain precautions are taken.