Cover Your Bases … With a Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement

FLOYD MURPHY, CFP, CLU, CHFC, THE NAK AMUN GROUP, VANCOUVER

Every adult should have an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement.

While each jurisdiction has its own terminology and rules for these documents, essentially an Enduring Power of Attorney enables you to give one or more people of your choosing the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf, should you become mentally or physically incapable of making those decision on your own, while a Representation Agreement covers health and medical decisions.

Without these documents, should you become incapacitated in any way, the process to enable someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf could be lengthy, onerous, and expensive. The first challenge for them might be to prove your mental incapacity.

Enduring Power of Attorney

The fundamental difference between a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney is that an ordinary Power of Attorney ends if the individual becomes incapacitated. That’s why an Enduring Power of Attorney is so important. While an individual must have the mental capacity to sign such a document in the first place, if that individual becomes incapacitated, only an Enduring Power of Attorney will remain in effect.

Even if you have an Enduring Power of Attorney, check regularly to ensure its ongoing validity. For example, in BC, the Act was changed in 2011, so if your document was created prior to then, you should review the contents. Also in BC, if the document doesn’t state otherwise, authority related to real estate expires aſt er three years. If your document was created in another jurisdiction, and you’ve moved, you should ensure your Enduring Power of Attorney fulfills all the requirements and is valid where you now live. For example, some jurisdictions require two witnesses while others require only one.

Representation Agreement

A Representation Agreement is essential to ensure somebody you trust will be allowed to make health and personal care decisions on your behalf, should you become incapable of making those decisions yourself. Your representative will be allowed to participate in conversations regarding your health and wellbeing, and access your health and medical information to ensure you receive timely and appropriate care. Without a Representation Agreement, you could be on your own, at a time when you really need help.

Who to Choose

The person or persons you choose to be your Representative or Attorney will typically be your spouse, children, or other close relative. If you choose more than one person, best if they work well together. Be aware of logistical challenges if you choose someone who does not live close by and legal issues if they live in a foreign country. If you have significant assets, you might choose a trust company or paid professional as your Enduring Power of Attorney.

Talk to Your Nakamun Advisor

If you don’t already have both an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement, please talk to your Nakamun Advisor as soon as possible. If you already have these documents, we’d be pleased to review them to identify any possible concerns.

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