Power of lawyer and your checking account
As people with AS get older, they can find it difficult to manage their financial affairs. This, of course, can be a major problem for many seniors as their limited ability to manage their finances and personal affairs can leave them prone to both accidental mistakes and unscrupulous activities.
While the advent of remote banking options could help manage finances and complete multiple transactions through online channels, there are situations when the best solution is to seek help from a trusted family member.
For some, it may be a good option to give a trusted friend or relative known as a “lawyer” what is known as a “power of attorney” – although no legal qualification is required – as they progress through their senior years.
“The Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint and authorize someone else to help you administer your financial affairs,” said Richard Fraser, Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel, Scotiabank. Fraser also indicated that this is a matter that needs careful consideration, particularly with regard to the scope of authority granted and the selection of the right or trustworthy person for this role.
One important thing, Fraser said, is that “the appointed person does not become the owner of the other person’s money or property; they only have the authority to manage it on their behalf ”. They are also unable to change a person’s will or make decisions after they die. Additionally, it is important to note that even with a power of attorney, as long as the person is mentally capable, they can continue to make their own decisions about their financial affairs.
Regarding banking, he also emphasized that the Power of Attorney typically gives an authorized person access to the owner’s financial accounts – the so-called principal – to pay for healthcare, housing needs and other bills. The attorney is also able to make investment decisions on behalf of the client and perform other tasks related to the client’s financial well-being.
The lawyer is regarded as a trustee in the above-mentioned contexts and must always act in the best interests of the principal when exercising the powers assigned to him within the framework of the power of attorney.
Fraser also noted that in order to appoint a person to act as a proxy in relation to accounts with the bank, the document must be validly issued and registered, and the attorney’s identity must be verified beforehand to be honored.
“While individuals can create their own simple Power of Attorney and have it stamped and registered, I believe it is best practice for Account Holders to seek advice from an attorney. The legal professional could assist in preparing the document, assist in stamping and registering the document, and providing advice on the powers that should be conferred by the document based on the needs of the account holder. Such legal advice is unlikely to be costly and the process can prove extremely beneficial to the person considering the process, ”he said.
While getting help is important, no senior should feel pressured to take any of the steps above, as the power of attorney should be free of coercion to be truly valid.
Appointment to power of attorney can be a great way to give seniors the support they need to meet vital necessities in their later years.
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