2. Understand when your role begins and ends

A takes effect as soon as it’s signed and witnessed, unless it says something else. This means you can start managing the person’s money and property even while they’re and also making decisions themselves.

Limits on what you can do

The Power of Attorney may be for a limited time. For example, it may last only for the time the person is sick or away on vacation.

Or, the Power of Attorney may limit what you can do. For example, it might only let you sign documents that are needed to sell the person’s home.

Other types of limits might state:

  • that you must consult with specific people, such as family members or financial advisors, before making certain decisions
  • which types of investments you may or may not make

If the person wants you to act only when they become , there must be a statement that clearly says this in the Power of Attorney. For example, it might say: “This Continuing Power of Attorney for Property will come into effect only when I become incapable of making decisions about my own property.”

Usually, this means you have to show proof that the person is incapable before you can act for them.

The Power of Attorney might also say who or what process to use to decide whether the person is no longer capable. For example, it could say that you, a health-care practitioner, a friend, or someone else must decide.

If the Power of Attorney does not say how to decide the person’s capacity, you must pay a to do an assessment.  

A capacity assessor is someone who has special training and has been approved by the government to decide if people are mentally incapable. The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee has a list of capacity assessors in Ontario.

If the person was assessed at a psychiatric facility and declared mentally incapable based on the Mental Health Act, you can use that notice of assessment as proof that they’re not capable.

Continuing Power of Attorney for Property

A Power of Attorney that lets you go on acting for the person when they’re mentally incapable of managing their money and property is called a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property.

When your role ends

Here are some examples of when your role as attorney ends:

  • you resign or die
  • the person dies
  • the person cancels or revokes the Power of Attorney
  • the person signs a new Power of Attorney and names a different attorney for property
  • a court appoints a
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