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There are several types of PAs as discussed following.

General Power of Attorney

This document gives authority to someone else to look after all your affairs, generally of a financial nature. You would have the option of giving all the powers right now, but protecting yourself by not giving a copy of the original document to the attorney unless you needed to. The other alternative would be to have a PA that would only be triggered on a certain specified event.

Unless the PA had an enduring feature to it, e.g. would continue to be valid if you were mentally incapacitated, then it would be void if you were mentally incapacitated. Depending on your province, the document has to be very specific in its terminology in order to be enforceable.

Limited Power of Attorney

There could be situations where you want to give the authority to someone to look after a specific matter for you, e.g. selling a home or doing some transactions relating to securities during a specific time period. Generally, the criteria for the authority are very clearly spelled out. This type of limited attorney powers is generally not valid in the case of your mental incapacity.

Bank Power of Attorney

If you want to grant a PA to a trusted friend or relative to act on your behalf on financial matters, the financial institution generally requires you to sign its own legal forms, regardless of any other document that you have prepared.

The financial institutions are particular about whether a document really reflects a customer’s current intentions, whether the document is a general or specific PA, and whether it includes an enduring clause or not. The enduring clause would normally state that the document would still be valid and your proxy power to the attorney would “endure” in the event of mental incapacity. Basically, the institution wants to see you personally and watch you sign their own documents rather than accept a document purporting to grant attorney proxy to others that they did not see you sign.

Continuing Power of Attorney For Property

In this type of document, you give authority to an agent or proxy to represent your interests in financial matters. This document would remain valid even if you are mentally incapacitated, and it must be reviewed every three years unless it contains a clause to the contrary.

Continuing Power of Attorney For Personal Care

In this type of document, you are giving your authority to an agent or proxy to make decisions regarding your health and medical treatment in the event that you are mentally incapacitated, or unable to look after your health affairs. Other terminology for similar documentation includes living will, advance medical directive, representation agreement, etc.

If you are considering this type of PA, put your instructions in words your attorney can understand. The word “attorney” does not mean “lawyer.”It means anyone whom you appoint as your agent or proxy. For example, if you tell your attorney you don’t want any “heroic measures” to keep you alive, your attorney might not know what that means. Try to give examples of what you want or don’t want to happen and under what circumstances. With advances in medicine, measures which might be considered by some to be “heroic” today could become commonplace in a few year’s time, with high recovery rates.

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