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Ten Things You Should Know if Acting Under a Power of Attorney for Property

If you have been named as an attorney for property and are about to begin acting or are already acting in that capacity, it is important to be aware of the wide range of responsibilities that you are taking on.  Below is a list of ten essential things that you should know.  Although not an exhaustive list, it includes ten points that many are not aware of.

  1. You can be paid for your work.  The  Substitute Decisions Act sets out how attorney compensation is calculated.  Compensation is taxable income.
  2. You must keep detailed records of all transactions, e.g.,  obtain and keep receipts for everything, request cancelled cheques from the bank and so on.
  3. You must handle the person’s assets in the person’s best interests.
  4. You must not act in a manner that would benefit you personally ahead of the person for whom you are acting.
  5. You must invest the person’s assets as a prudent investor would.
  6. You must file the person’s income tax returns including any overdue tax returns for previous years.
  7. You must review the person’s Will to ensure that any gifts in the Will are preserved unless needed to cover liabilities.
  8. You cannot change the person’s beneficiary designations on RRSPs, RRIFs, or life insurance.
  9. The beneficiaries of the person’s estate and the Public Guardian and Trustee for Ontario can review and question everything you have done or failed to do while acting under a power of attorney.
  10. To the extent that the person is capable of understanding, you should consult with the person and keep him or her ‘in the loop’ as much as possible.

Reproduction of this blog is permitted if the author is credited.  If you have questions or if you would like more information, please call us at 613 836-9915. This blog is not intended to be legal advice but contains general information.  Please consult a lawyer or other professional to determine how the information in this blog might apply to you.

Blog posts pre-dated December 1, 2015 were originally published under Neff Law Office Professional Corporation.

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