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Wealth management

Power of attorney: does it make sense for you?

July 21, 2022

No one is immune to conditions beyond their control. Due to health concerns, difficulty getting around after an accident or even an unforeseen event, you may have to take a step back from managing your finances for an extended period. Whatever the situation, you’ll certainly have to continue to meet your obligations and carry out the related transactions. You might like to consider getting support from someone you trust by giving them a power of attorney.

For Quebec only

Before moving forward with this important decision, here’s what you need to know about powers of attorney.

The top 3 questions

More and more people are choosing to sign a power of attorney, despite the prevailing myths surrounding this type of contract. Let’s set the record straight with 3 questions that come up frequently!

1. What is a power of attorney?

It’s a contract between you (the mandator) and the person you designate as the attorney (or mandatary) authorizing them to do certain things on your behalf, including administering your property for you. Depending on the specifications, it allows the attorney to carry out on your behalf all your desired financial transactions, such as withdrawals, deposits or bill payments.

2. Why use such a document?

There are many reasons why you may want to consider a power of attorney (for example, extended absence, travel, difficulty getting around, discomfort with money management), and they are all valid. Using it is always up to you.

3. Who can sign a power of attorney?

In Quebec, anyone 18 or older who is deemed fit can sign a power of attorney designating a trustworthy person to act on their behalf.

Private (caisse) power of attorney and notarized power of attorney

You can sign a power of attorney at the caisse in the presence of your attorney and your advisor using the power of attorney form provided by the caisse. This power of attorney is called “specific” because it allows the attorney to manage only the open accounts associated with your folio number.

You can also sign a power of attorney with the advice of a notary or lawyer. A notarized power of attorney can be used for more general or specific management of all your property.

These 2 powers of attorney can be cancelled at any time and will end when you or the attorney become incapable or die.

The 3 things you need to know

Few people are aware of powers of attorney. Here are 3 things to know if you’ve given a power of attorney or you intend to do so in the near future.

No. 1: You remain responsible for your property

Be aware that the power of attorney doesn’t make you any less liable for your account and the operations done on your behalf. It’s your responsibility to monitor the transactions carried out by your attorney to ensure they meet your needs and expectations.

Your attorney doesn’t become the owner of your assets or possessions. You’re still in charge.

No. 2: Your attorney must act in your best interest

There is no power of attorney that allows your attorney to dispose of your money as they see fit. Your attorney simply gets permission to manage your assets for you, in the same way you would. They must therefore always act in your interest and in accordance with your wishes.

It’s recommended that you agree on the degree of latitude you’ll give them to manage your assets, and in some cases, the duration of the power of attorney.

No. 3: Your financial institution isn’t required to cooperate with your attorney

A power of attorney is a contract between a mandator and their attorney. It’s therefore clear that the financial institution isn’t involved in this agreement and isn’t required to cooperate with this individual. It’s a privilege that it bestows on its client, not a right. Even if you choose to give a power of attorney to a loved one, your financial institution may refuse to carry out some transactions if it has reason to believe that you’re a victim of financial abuse.

As mentioned, you can cancel a power of attorney related to your account at any time, especially if any irregularities were found in your accounts or investments. You may then appoint a new attorney. However, the process will vary depending on the type of power of attorney you’ve chosen. It’s therefore advisable to think ahead of time about possible replacements in case of need.

Top 3 tips

By following the few power of attorney tips below, you’ll make better decisions and be less vulnerable to certain situations that may arise.

  1. Take the time to share your expectations with your attorney, especially regarding your planned investments and purchases. Keep in mind that the power of attorney lets them wield extensive power, but that you are still responsible for guaranteeing that their actions meet your expectations.
  2. Review your account statements regularly to ensure all transactions are legitimate.
  3. Choose an attorney who wants your well-being, not your property, and identify another trustworthy person to take over if necessary or if you choose so.

If you have any concerns about powers of attorney, please contact a legal advisor. You can also contact your caisse advisor for any questions about adding a power of attorney to your account.

Helpful tools:

For more information on Powers of Attorney, see Éducaloi. External link. This link will open in a new window.  External link. This link will open in a new window.