What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?

An Enduring Power of Attorney is an extremely important document to have. In fact, many lawyers equate it as being equally important to having a Will.

 

In my practice as a wills & estates lawyer in Newfoundland & Labrador, I routinely get asked “What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?” It is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone else (for example, a trusted family member/friend or a Trust Company) to act on your behalf in relation to your property/finances if you should lack legal capacity to manage them in the future.

 

I frequently get calls from family members (typically adult children) who are left in a very difficult position when a parent is no longer competent to make financial decisions but didn’t get an Enduring Power of Attorney drafted before becoming incompetent. The legal costs associated with drafting an Enduring Power of Attorney can range in price depending on the law firm, but typically it is around a few hundred dollars. Chislett Whitten Law located in Paradise, Newfoundland & Labrador currently (as of September 2020) charges $200 plus tax if it is a stand-alone document. The price is even less if it is part of an estate package. An Enduring Power of Attorney can only be prepared if the person making the document has legal capacity. The lawyer preparing the document will need to confirm that the maker has such capacity. This is normally done through observation and asking specific questions. If the maker lacks capacity, then it is too late to get the document done.

 

If you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney and you don’t have the required legal capacity, a person can only make decisions on your behalf relating to your property/finances if they have been appointed by a court to do so. Such a court matter can cost thousands of dollars if a private lawyer is hired to assist with the court application. If there is a dispute regarding who should be appointed as representative, then it could cost much more. Ultimately, it would have saved time, money and effort (and possibly avoid family conflict) if you had already chosen and appointed such a person in advance through an Enduring Power of Attorney.

If you would like more information about Enduring Powers of Attorney in Newfoundland & Labrador, please contact lawyer Kristen O'Keefe at kokeefe@chislettwhitten.ca or 709-726-1977.