Tag: Powers of Attorney
While employed in management in the assisted living field, I was tasked with the facilitation and implementation of the personal care decisions of my residents. Where the resident was capable, they of course directed their own personal care, including scoping out their vision for advance directives, should the future need arise for these to be considered. Some residents, however, were no longer capable of making their own personal care decisions and the legal responsibility for doing so was passed to another party by a previously conceived Power of Attorney for Personal Care (POAPC).
While simple in concept, complications emerged when more than one person had been appointed under the POAPC. As an example, one resident had appointed all five of her children to make personal care decisions in the event of her incapacity. Well-intentioned, no doubt, as I imagined that she had done so in order to ‘keep the peace’ amongst the five adult siblings. In practical terms, however, the children spanned three countries and nine timezones and an equal breadth of opinion regarding how their mother’s care plan was to evolve, especially as her health declined. Attempting to reach consensus about any facets of her personal care was onerous and time-intense, and understandably emotional for the family. Factors such as the sibling’s interpersonal relationships (including where they felt they fell within the family pecking order), their own beliefs and values regarding end-of-life medical intervention, as well as the ‘baggage’ they each carried regarding their relationship with their mother, impacted, if not directed, their decision-making.
If one feels it both necessary and appropriate to appoint multiple Attorneys under a POAPC, prudence dictates that a prior detailed discussion, including written documentation, be undertaken to ensure that one’s wishes have been effectively communicated and understood.
Jennifer Hartman, Guest Blogger
To assist real estate lawyers in identifying forged powers of attorney and fraudulent real estate transactions, the Law Society of Upper Canada has provided real estate lawyers with a set of new guidelines and procedures for powers of attorney and real estate transactions.
In order to address the issue of fraudulent transfers of title and mortgages, new registration requirements were implemented last year necessitating law statements by individuals registering real estate documents under the authority of a power of attorney. Paul Trudelle’s previous blog of last year describes the new registration requirements.
The new registration requirement and Law Society guidelines have in part been necessitated by the case of Revickzy v Melekinia. Natalia Angelini’s blog sets out the background of the case and comments on the possible impact on a solicitor’s duties.
The Law Society guidelines include the following suggestions:
- To the extent possible, lawyers avoid the use of Powers of Attorneys in real estate transactions;
- That when a Power of Attorney is required and a pre-existing Power of Attorney does not exist, the lawyer should prepare the Power of Attorney themselves, meet with the donor and make diligent inquiries to establish that the donor’s identity;
- That lawyers for all parties should review Power of Attorney to determine that it is in compliance with legislation;
- That lawyers should use their best efforts to register the Power of Attorney on title and provide a copy of the registered Power of Attorney to the other side; and
- Lawyers comply with the Law Society client identification and verification requirements.
Hopefully, in adopting these practices lawyers can assist in recognizing fraudulent real estate transactions.
Thanks for Reading,
By all indications, the abuse of Powers of Attorney to misappropriate assets is on the rise.
When a grantor gives powers to an attorney to manage the grantor’s property, it allows the attorney to assist the grantor in managing property, and in fact to take over management of property altogether if the grantor does not monitor the situation. Often the very goal of the grantor is to allow someone else to completely take over management of one’s property due to age, potential incapacity or other reasons, so the grantor has no intention to monitor.
This is often a reasonable choice, and the law holds attorneys to a high standard to protect grantors. However, the potential for abuse is immense. Abuse can be willful or simply negligent, but in either case the damage can be devastating and irreversible. In many cases attorneys who stray from their duties are never made to account, although they have that obligation. Often they live with the grantor and have little or no oversight. The legal fees in securing justice are generally high, and the chances of recovering on a judgment can be low. In the result, legal proceedings might be impractical, however blatant abuse may be in a given case.
The best defence against this problem is awareness, so these varied results from a quick internet search are somewhat encouraging: a Florida law firm website; an excellent Vancouver Sun article; a synopsis of a TV news story; the New York Attorney General’s website; a news report of a Philadelphia trial; and a news release from Prince Edward Island’s provincial government commenting on the problem for World Elder Abuse Day.
This is the tip of a very large iceberg: by all indications lawyers, financial institutions, governments and of course the public will be wrestling with a growing problem for years to come.
Thanks for reading.
Over the Christmas break, a news story out of Winnipeg captured national headlines. Samuel Golubchuk is 84 years old and on life support in Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital. He apparently suffered a brain-injury from an earlier fall and part of his brain was removed at the time. Tragically, Mr. Golubchuk cannot walk, speak, eat or breathe on his own. His treating physicians say Mr. Golubchuk has no chance of recovery and that his quality of life is negligible. They want the right to remove him from life support. The news stories don’t indicate whether Mr. Golubchuk left a power of attorney or end-of-life instructions.
Mr. Golubchuk’s family has gone to court to resist any attempt by the hospital’s doctors to remove him from life support. Mr. Golubchuk’s family claims that removing life support would violate Mr. Golubchuk’s orthodox Jewish belief and amount to an assault as it would hasten his death.
In early December, the family was granted a temporary court injunction while a local judge considered the case. In January, the family returned to court and presented two opinions from New York doctors. According to the family’s doctors, Mr. Golubchuk was not beyond hope.
The family has maintained throughout that it is a matter of self-determination and the right to live in a free and democratic society without an outside party making decisions for you. The hospital, on the other hand, maintains that it is up to the treating physician to make a judgment call as to whether or not life support should be removed.
As far as I can tell, the judge hearing the case has still not decided what will happen to Mr. Golubchuk. However, it is clear that the courts struggle with life and death decisions as much as guardians or family members do. There are simply no easy answers. In the end, I think it is difficult to say how any one of us would act or react when confronted with the ultimate decision.
Keep thinking and thanks for reading.
In our rapidly aging society, powers of attorney for personal care and property are now widespread and their importance is recognized by the general public. A family member or friend can also apply to the court to be appointed guardian of the person or the person’s property if powers of attorney have not been executed. However, family members often find themselves in a situation where a loved one is being legally cared for by a family member, or friend of the incapable person, who they no longer like or trust.
A common complaint that I hear is from family members or friends who feel excluded from participating in or influencing decisions regarding the incapable person, particularly when it comes to personal care.
However, under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, which generally governs the rights of an incapable person, any person, with leave, can seek directions from the court on any question arising under a power of attorney (the same is true regarding a court appointed guardian). Pursuant to sections 39 and 68 of the Act, the court may give such directions as it considers to be for the benefit of the incapable person and consistent with the Act.
Section 66(1) of the Act sets out the duties of an attorney for personal care (section 32 is the corresponding section for an attorney for property). In general, the attorney is required to exercise his or her duties and powers with diligence and in good faith.
Section 66(6) also states that an attorney must foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends. Moreover, section 66(7) states that the attorney shall consult with supportive family members and friends who are in regular contact with the incapable person, as well as the incapable person’s caregivers.
The requirements of section 66, coupled with the ability to seek directions from the court, offer family members and friends the means to ensure that they remain involved with their loved ones and are not simply sidelined. Proceeding to court is always expensive. However, where there is genuine concern and frustration that the incapable person is not being properly cared for and/or his or her finances are being squandered, recourse can be had to the courts.
Listen to "Powers of Attorney and Elder Abuse"
Read the transcribed version of "Powers of Attorney and Elder Abuse"
During Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #64, Ian Hull and Suzana Popovic-Montag express the importance of educating an individual chosen as Power of Attorney on their roles and responsibilities, as well as full disclosure between all parties involved in the estate planning.
They also discuss the issue of duelling Powers of Attorney during the succession planning process and the strategy of using Power of Attorney for limited purposes.
Ian and Suzana also touch on the problem of elder abuse and mentioned the helpful emergency hotline provided by the Public Guardian and Trustee at 1-800-366-0335.
For our last blog before the Holiday Season, Ian and I wanted to mention the final four legal considerations to keep in mind when dealing with joint accounts.
Firstly, and in particular, mental capacity issues always need to be considered at the time that the joint account is established.
In addition, Powers of Attorney are often the source document behind the establishment of a joint account and the use and abuse of that document at the time that the joint account is established needs to always be considered. Another high-level abuse comes through the use of Internet banking, where one of the family members obtains the password of the parent and then simply proceeds to do his or her banking at will.
Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #15 – Powers of Attorney for Property and Personal Care
READ THE TRANSCRIBED PODCAST HERE
In Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #15, we continued with our discussion on Powers of Attorney for Property, from both a non-contentious and contentious perspective, and we discussed Powers of Attorney for Personal Care as well.
READ THE TRANSCRIBED PODCAST HERE
During Hull on Estate and Succession Planning Podcast #14, we discussed Powers of Attorney. ——