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Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Planning ahead – Powers of Attorney, Wills and Health Care Directives and their use during the COVID-19 pandemic and in general

Part 1 – Power of Attorney

COVID-19, also known to many as coronavirus, has had a swift and drastic impact on all of us.  The unknowns cause anxiety as we do not feel in control, and we worry about our loved ones, and our own ability to manage should we become ill.  Most Manitobans have made great efforts to follow the recommendations of health professionals and our government as it relates to social distancing, and other measures to protect our own health, and in the hopes of flattening the curve of progression.  But many of us have not thought of ways we can help our families to manage our affairs should we become ill, or otherwise unable to make personal attendances to take care of our own affairs. 

There are several steps that can be taken to plan for this possibility, whether related to COVID-19, or simply as a matter of general sensible planning.  In this article, we will share information about Powers of Attorney.

 

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the power to take care of your financial or legal affairs while you are still alive, but unable to take care of your own affairs. 

 

In what kinds of situations are Powers of Attorney useful?

Powers of Attorney can be used to have a trusted family member or friend stand in your shoes to take care of things, when you are unable to do so.

Sometimes, people give a power of attorney to someone for a particular reason, or because of an upcoming known event, for example to take care of their financial arrangements while they are out of the country, or in anticipation of an upcoming hospital stay.

Many times, we see the elderly giving powers of attorney to a family member to help them with specific tasks such as banking.

Powers of attorney are often used to plan for times when it would be difficult, or impossible to take care of these things ourselves, due to physical impairment, or in the event we became unable to understand these tasks and make decisions due to mental health issues, and incapacity. An enduring power of attorney survives mental infirmity of the person granting it, and has to be witnessed by a limited type of professional, such as a lawyer.

 

What powers are given in a Power of Attorney?

Usually a Power of Attorney gives the other person general powers, to do all things which may be required such as banking, signing documents, renewing leases and mortgages, paying accounts, and the like.

 

Who should I give this power to?

Usually people name a trusted family member, or close friend to act as their “attorney” under the power of attorney. The “attorney” in this document is not (usually) a lawyer; it is the person to whom you are giving the power to take care of your affairs. The person should reside in the same province and be willing to take on this responsibility.

 

I already have an existing Power of Attorney, am I covered?

It is a good idea to review your Power of Attorney to ensure it is valid, survives mental infirmity, and can be used immediately in the case of an emergency.  You may want to review who you have appointed to ensure they are able to assist you given the current COVID-19 situation.  The appointed “attorney” may be part of a vulnerable sector of the population and may not be able to assist in the event of an emergency, self-isolation or quarantine.

 

I didn’t sign a Power of Attorney.  Can I still sign one during COVID-19?

Because it is an important document, and to make sure that you understand what you are signing, and that it will be sufficient for its intended purpose, a Power of Attorney should be signed in front of a lawyer.  Contact Bennet Waugh Corne, to find out what steps are being taken to have these important documents created, and signed following the health recommendations in place for the protection of your health, our staff, and the community.

Lawyers who can help you with a Power of Attorney are: (click on name for details about lawyer)

Shasta Benaim           contact  [email protected]  

Renée Nichols            contact  [email protected]

Grenville Waugh         contact [email protected] or his assistant at  [email protected]

 

Posted by Alison Bennet at 12:00 AM

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Notice to Readers:

The articles on our website are for general information purposes only, and are not intended to be complete or exhaustive descriptions of the law. The articles and comments should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The articles are current only as at the date they are posted on the website, and the law is subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion on your own unique fact situation, we would be pleased to offer you our assistance and we invite you to contact us.