What is it? How does it work? How do you make one? A power of attorney is not a Will. A power of attorney is only valid while you are alive; in contrast, your Will comes into force only once you die. Essentially, when you are a capable adult, the only person who has legal authority over your affairs is you. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows another person(s) or trust company to manage your money, property, business, taxes, etc. on your behalf.
Why would you want someone to have authority over your affairs while you are alive? This is part of your incapacity planning. If you are very sick or in an accident you may need someone else to sign your documents, file your tax returns, pay your bills, etc. Even your spouse cannot do this without an Enduring Power of Attorney. If you have not set this up in advance, your spouse, family member or friend will have to obtain a court order to be appointed as a committee of your estate (this can be expensive). An enduring power of attorney remains valid when you are incapable (but still alive) so this is the preferred document. You may also appoint an alternate attorney in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to act. For example, if both you and your partner are in a common accident or ill at the same time. There are many technical aspects to a power of attorney and it may be customized to meet your particular needs. It is recommended that you seek professional legal advice to make your enduring power to attorney.
The BC government had provided a free template in case you want to create one for yourself. That resource may be found here.
Your attorney, under a power of attorney, cannot make health care decisions for you. You must appoint a substitute decision maker for health and personal care under a separate legal document. In British Columbia, that document is called a Representation Agreement and each jurisdiction will have its own terminology.
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