Planning ahead with Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directives

From the moment you open your first bank account, buy your first home, or sign up for a credit card, you are in direct control of your finances. However, there may come a point in your life when you may not be able to manage your finances, due to infirmity, severe illness, serious injury, or loss of mental capacity. This is precisely why you should consider setting up Powers of Attorney, whatever your age, but especially as you grow older.

In fact, the Alberta government website states this quite strongly!

“Every Albertan who is at least 18 years old should have:

  • a personal directive
  • an enduring power of attorney
  • a will”
What types of Power of Attorney (POA) do I need?

It does depend on your individual circumstances, but generally you should look at:

  1.  An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), where you appoint someone to look after your financial affairs on your behalf
  2. A Personal Directive, which gives someone you appoint the ability to make important decisions regarding your health care.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

A EPA is simply a document which gives someone you appoint the ability to take over your financial affairs if you loss the mental capacity to manage these yourself. As the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA) website explains:

“When you make an Enduring Power of Attorney, you are the “Donor” and you give your authority (“Power”) to another person (“Attorney”) to deal with your financial affairs.”

You can appoint several attorneys (co-attorneys) if you wish, and put specific limits on decisions, such as the ability (or not) to sell property.

Creating an EPA

Your EPA must be signed and dated in the presence of witnesses. Whilst you can get EPA templates from the internet, it is far better to consult a lawyer to ensure it is drawn up correctly. Otherwise important organisations such as your bank may question it if you make a mistake.

You need to have a statement in the document which states if the EPA is to take effect immediately, or only ‘spring’ into effect when a specific event might occur. So you can still have total control over your finances until the point where you wish to relinquish them. Your lawyer will help you make this statement correctly.

Choosing your Attorney

In terms of a EPA, your Attorney is a person you trust to manage your financial affairs and, if you wish, your property too. They don’t have to be an actual attorney at law, i.e. a lawyer. You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 who can be a member of your family or a trusted friend, anyone who you think will act in your best interests when you cannot make important decisions for yourself. So long as you have the mental capacity, you can cancel your EPA at any time using a signed and witnessed “revocation”. So, you always remain in control.

Ending a Power of Attorney

As the Calgary Legal Guidance (CLG) website says:

“Your power of attorney will end in one of three ways:

  • You tell or write a notice to your agent that the power of attorney is revoked;
  • when you lose your mental capacity, unless your power of attorney is an “Enduring Power of Attorney” made in accordance with the Power of Attorney Act in Alberta; or
  • When you die.”
Personal Directives

A Personal Directive (PD) enables you to nominate someone to take decisions for you if you become too ill or too injured to make those decisions yourself. Like with an EPA, you give the nominated person the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. And like an EOPA, it is best drawn up with the help of a lawyer.

All PDs are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT), so healthcare providers in Alberta can find out who is your appointed agent/s if required. Your ‘agent’ is the person you appoint in the personal directive.

Personal Directives in Action

As with a ‘spring’ clause EPA, your personal directive will only come into force when required. Like an EPA, it’s a written document with your requirements given in detail, and is signed and witnessed. As the Alberta website states:

“Your instructions can be about any or all personal matters that are non-financial, such as:

  • medical treatments you would or wouldn’t want
  • where you’d like to live
  • who you’d like to live with
  • who you want to temporarily care for your minor children
  • choices about other personal activities
  • any other personal and legal decisions”

You can appoint one or more agents for your Personal Directive. If you regain your mental capacity and ability to make decisions, you simply take back the power to make your own decisions.

Registering your Personal Directive

You can register your own personal directive using the My Alberta Digital ID portal at https://account.alberta.ca/. Or you can mail the registration form to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee in Edmonton.

Which is better – Enduring Power of Attorney or Personal Directive?

The simple answer is – both! You and your spouse/partner should each have your own EPA and PD, as you may own property, investments, bank accounts and more in your own name. Equally, you may have strong views on your future healthcare.

Remember, you are never too young to set these up; creating an Enduring Power of Attorney AND a Personal Directive simple and highly cost-effective way to plan for your future.

Planning for your future care

At Vytality at Home, we aim to help you live in your own home, enjoying life, for as long as possible. If the need arises, we can also work with your appointed agent in accordance with your registered Personal Directive. To discuss your home care requirements in central Calgary and surrounding districts:

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article to make you aware of the availability of EPS and personal directives. It does not offer legal advice. If you require legal advice and assistance, you should contact your lawyer.

SOURCES

https://www.cplea.ca/enduring-power-attorney/

https://www.alberta.ca/personal-directive.aspx

https://www.alberta.ca/enduring-power-of-attorney.aspx

http://clg.ab.ca/programs-services/dial-a-law/powers-of-attorney/

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