Being named as somebody's power of attorney

A Power of Attorney for Property is a legal document that grants one or more persons the power to make financial decisions on behalf of another person with respect to his or her property, while that person is still alive.

Your responsibilities as an attorney

The Power of Attorney document will tell you what you can and cannot do on behalf of the donor as their attorney. The donor is the person who has given you Power of Attorney.

The donor’s Power of Attorney is only valid while they are alive.

If there are no restrictions or limitations in a valid Power of Attorney, as the attorney, you should be able to:

  • do their day-to-day banking
  • sign cheques on their behalf
  • buy or sell real estate on their behalf
  • borrow money on their behalf
  • take on any other responsibilities listed in the Power of Attorney

When someone gives you Power of Attorney, you cannot:

  • make a will for them
  • change their existing will
  • name or change a beneficiary in any of their registered savings plans or life insurance policies
  • delegate any or all of your responsibilities under the Power of Attorney to someone else, unless the donor specifically stated in the original Power of Attorney that you could do so

As an attorney you must remember:

  • you do not own any of the donor’s property or money, you just manage it on their behalf
  • to keep a record of any financial transactions you make on the donor’s behalf
  • to act in the best interest of the donor
  • to consult the donor as often as possible

The laws relating to Powers of Attorney are set at the provincial or territorial level.

Find more information by consulting the provincial and territorial resources on estate law.​

Joint bank accounts and power of attorney

A joint bank account may be an option to consider if someone in your care wants you to help pay their bills or manage their finances. However, there are some risks associated with joint bank accounts. For example, you may be responsible for debts linked to a joint bank account, even if they are not yours.

For more information on Powers of Attorney and joint bank accounts, read What every older Canadian should know about: Powers of Attorney (for financial matters and property) and joint bank account.

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