What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of AttorneyAccording to the Attorney General, a Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.

Last week I was interviewed for possibly being designated as a Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Personal Care for an individual.  While the interviewer, let’s call her Cindy, was asking intelligent questions and accessing my knowledge, skill set and personality, I was also forming the questions I needed to ask her.  It is no longer merely ‘an honour’ or an easy task to take on the massive responsibilities now associated with these positions.

Cindy is single, self-employed, her parents have passed and she is in her early 50’s with some medical issues.  About 5 years ago she took on the responsibility of caring for her uncle, who is in his mid 60’s with a brain injury.  Luckily, he’s very healthy and acts much younger than his age.  However, even though Cindy has a number of siblings, none of them want to take the uncle even for a weekend to give her a break, let alone a long term commitment.  So while she’s asking me about what I would do and the costs involved if anything happened to her, I realize she needs significantly more information before she assigns these positions to anyone.

She is not alone in not knowing what a Power of Attorney can, should and want to do. Here are a few of the responsibilities that a Power of Attorney for Property may be responsible for according to the Ministry of the Attorney General:

  • Apply for benefits or supplementary income to which the person is entitled
  • Collect debts
  • Pay bills
  • Buy goods and services
  • Start of defend lawsuits, if there are financial implications
  • Maintain or sell a house or vehicle

For the Power of Attorney for Personal Care some of the decisions  are determining;

  • Medical treatment
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Hygiene

Basically a Power of Attorney may need to make important decisions about your health and quality of life.

Some of my questions to Cindy were;

  1. If your uncle could no longer live in your home, who’s going to care for him?
  2. Where would he go, short term and/or long term?
  3. Do you understand the costs involved in a senior’s residence or institutional care?  And, would he even be allowed to live in a senior’s residence?
  4. Are there any responsibilities to manage where your business is concerned?
  5. Do you have a list of where your important documents are stored, and does someone know where that list is?

When you think of appointing a Power of Attorney, think of all that is required for that job.  Who is most capable of handling the responsibilities? If it’s just not you affected by a change in health, how will dependents be cared for?  And I’m not just thinking of dependents who live with you.  What about family members that are dependent on you for groceries, medical appointments, etc.?

No one likes thinking about losing the ability to care for themselves, but if we don’t think about this now, who will when we don’t have an option?  Choose carefully!

As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website.

Until next time,



4 Great Reasons to Get Jewellery Appraised

estate jewelleryWhen you’ve been appointed an executor, one of the many challenges you’ll face is establishing the value of the estate for probate purposes.  Often jewellery has a significant emotional and financial impact resulting in how potential beneficiaries view its value.  I don’t believe sentimental value can have a dollar sign attached to it so a professional appraisal needs to be done. So to protect the interests of the estate, executor and beneficiaries, I’ve asked Christine Driussi to help guide you on the various aspects of appraisals and their benefits. Below are 4 great reasons to get your jewellery appraised.

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Death and Your Social Media/Online Presence

social media deathHaving Power of Attorney (POA) and being an Executor for a number of clients, the topic of Social Media and ones online presence is always brought into the conversation by me.  When discussing death and who gets the cottage or the dog, how to inform friends, family, customers and vendors who know you and keep in touch electronically is constantly being overlooked.

This is even more critical if your online presence is e-commerce supplying products, services and subscriptions.  Who do you trust to leave all the access information and passwords to? Death does not have to be the only reason to stop and consider this. If you become incapacitated, who can continue to sell and inform on your behalf? And what do you want your final Facebook or Twitter posting to be – “just heading to the hospital, hope to be out before the hockey game starts”? How do you want your legacy to read?

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Understanding Bereavement


I’ve been a longtime volunteer for Doane House Hospice. During that time I’ve participated in many of the positions required to support a not-for-profit organization.  I first started by taking the Palliative Care courses then became a visiting volunteer, Board Member, Treasurer, chaired the Oasis Day Programme and participated on the fundraising committee. One of the services they offer is the Bereavement Programme. For a number of years I’ve wanted to be part of this valuable arm of the organization but my schedule and the training schedule never seemed to coincide, until just recently. A couple of weeks ago I participated in the Bereavement Facilitator Training course.

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5 Facts regarding the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit

Death BenefitsWhen you’re responsible for handling the estate paperwork of someone who has recently died there is a lot to be aware of, and do, no matter the size of the estate.  Here are 5 facts regarding the Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit (Death Benefit) and how best to proceed. These comments are not taking into consideration if the deceased contributed to the Quebec Pension Plan.

1)    If there is a will, the Executer named in the will to administer the estate must apply for the Death Benefit within 60 days of the date of death.  If there is no will or the Executor did not did not apply within 60 days of the date of death, one of the following persons should apply;

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No Will, No Way

21427529_sLast week I spoke to a friend whose father had suddenly and tragically died a few days earlier.  It’s sad on so many levels but in this case he had a complete physical, with no indication his health was compromised, one week prior to having a massive heart attack and dying within minutes. After a tearful conversation it really struck me that with No Will there is No Way the healing process for her and her family will begin and end quickly.  His passing is almost a guideline as to what should not happen if you leave loved ones behind.

1)    His last will was prepared while he was still married, 20 years ago.  The divorce was finalized 12 years ago but as it stands his ex-wife will receive the house and is also the beneficiary to his company life insurance plan. It appears the lawyer that handled the divorce did not suggest that a new will be prepared or guide him on other areas to consider after a major life change.  Based on other family members and friends that have used the same lawyer this is not something she has suggested to them in the past either.

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5 Things That Will Impact the Future Valuation of Your New Business

bigstock-Monitoring-company-balance-dyn-26891951If you recall in last week’s blog, we began running a series of posts on Business Valuation. Continuing on this subject this week, we will talk about 5 things that will impact the future valuation of your new business.

You have worked hard, you have built a wonderful successful business, and now you are ready to sell it and use it as a foundation for your retirement.  You feel your business is worth $1,000,000.00 based on your sales and projected earnings that you would make if you were to continue running the business.  You take your documents to a valuation expert and they come back and inform you that the business is worth only $250,000.00  How did this happen and why is the business valued so low in comparison to what you thought it should be?

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3 Important Things to Include in Your End-of-Business Plan

17323643_sIt is important for all business owners to have legal operating documents in place, including an End-of-Business plan that addresses what happens to the business if the owner can no longer run it. It should cover what happens if you retire, die, are disabled, or otherwise can’t operate your business. Below are 3 things to include in your End-of-Business plan and why they are important. Continue reading

3 Big Estate Planning Mistakes

bigstock-Couple-On-Bench-3635052Recently I have spoken to a number of people about their end-of-life planning. A few have said “what do I care? I’ll be gone and the estate can pay for everything”, and others want to leave everything organized and not be a burden after their demise.  While I commend those that want to make the job of the Trustee as convenient as possible I still see areas that are overlooked when it comes to planning the estate.  The following are 3 big estate planning mistakes we should all be aware of.

1)    Where’s the Will? Continue reading

Why Should I be Concerned About a Business Will Now?

The 2011 Ontario budget[1], delivered by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan on March 29, 2011, contained a budget proposal that will significantly alter the way in which the Ontario Estate Administration Tax (“EAT”) is assessed and collected. The amendments to the Ontario Estate Administration Tax Act, 1998 (the “EAT Act”) announced in the 2011 Budget received Royal Assent on May 12, 2011. Although these amendments will not generally take effect before January 1, 2013, estate trustees and their advisors should be aware of the new tax audit and collection regime and the potentially severe consequences for non-compliance.

The most significant of the amendments to the EAT Act are as follows:

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