What is a power of attorney in Nova Scotia?
A power of attorney (POA) in Nova Scotia is a legal document that allows you to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf, usually about your financial matters. You can choose anyone you trust, such as a spouse, a relative, a friend, or a professional. You can choose to give your attorney “general” or “limited authority”, depending on your needs and preferences. A POA can be enduring, which means it continues to be valid even if you lose your mental capacity to make decisions, or non-enduring, which means it ends if you become mentally incapable. A power of attorney can help you plan for the future and protect your interests if you are unable to manage your own affairs.
Why might you need a power of attorney in Nova Scotia?
You might need a power of attorney if you are traveling abroad and want someone to manage your finances or property while you are away. You might also need a POA if you become ill or incapacitated and want someone to make medical or personal decisions for you. A power of attorney can give you peace of mind and ensure that your wishes are respected in case of an emergency.
Why think about preparing an enduring power of attorney now?
Here are some reasons why you should think about preparing a power of attorney now:
- You can choose who will act for you. You can select someone who knows you well and who will respect your wishes and values. You can also specify what powers they will have and when they will take effect.
- You can avoid potential conflicts and delays. If you do not have a power of attorney and you lose your mental capacity, your family or friends may have to apply to the court to appoint a guardian or conservator for you. This can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful. It can also lead to disputes among your loved ones or with third parties, such as banks, doctors, or government agencies.
- You can plan for unexpected situations. You never know when an accident, illness, or other event may impair your ability to make decisions for yourself. Having a power of attorney can help you prepare for such scenarios and ensure that your affairs are handled according to your preferences.
Who can make a power of attorney in Nova Scotia?
There are some requirements and limitations for who can make a power of attorney:
- You must be mentally competent and capable of understanding the nature and consequences of your decision. This means that you must be able to communicate your wishes, weigh the pros and cons of different options, and appreciate the risks and benefits of giving someone else authority over your affairs. If you are not mentally competent, you cannot make a valid power of attorney.
- You must be at least 19 years old. Minors cannot make a power of attorney because they do not have the legal capacity to enter into contracts or make binding decisions.
- You must follow the laws and procedures of your province. Different provinces may have different rules for how to create, sign, witness, notarize, and register a power of attorney. You should consult with a lawyer to ensure that your POA meets legal requirements.
- You must be free from undue influence or coercion when making a power of attorney. You should not feel pressured or forced by anyone to appoint them as your agent or to give them more powers than you are comfortable with. You should also avoid any conflicts of interest or potential abuse by choosing someone who has your best interests at heart and who will respect your wishes and preferences.
How should I make my Power of Attorney?
We advise speaking to a lawyer about making a power of attorney. They can advise you on the following:
- What type of power of attorney you need, such as general or medical.
- Who is a good choice for an agent or attorney-in-fact. This is the person who will act on your behalf under the POA. You should choose someone you trust, who understands your preferences and values, and who is willing and able to perform the duties required.
- The powers and limitations you are granting the agent. You should clearly state what the agent can and cannot do under the POA. For example, you can grant them the authority to pay your bills, access your bank accounts, sell your property, make medical decisions, or hire a caregiver. You can also limit their powers to certain situations, time periods, or assets. You should also include any instructions or guidance that you want the agent to follow.
- How to sign and witness it correctly so that it is valid in the province you reside. These rules are set out in the Powers of Attorney Act.
- Who should be notified and receive copies of the documents once complete.
The above is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice — contact a lawyer to discuss your personal circumstances and learn your options.
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