Written by Chris Turnbull on Jul. 28, 2016
A power of attorney for property is a written document by which a grantor appoints an attorney to act as a substitute decision maker with respect to the grantors property or financial affairs.
This grant of power becomes effective immediately upon the grantor signing the document unless otherwise indicated. While a General Power of Attorney ends when the grantor becomes incapacitated, an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) remains in effect, allowing the attorney to continue to act on behalf of the grantor, if they are no longer able.
Generally speaking, a power of attorney terminates on the death or bankruptcy of the grantor who may also revoke the power of attorney at any time, providing there is capacity.
In the absence of a power of attorney, the financial affairs of an incapacitated person enter a void until the public trustee is involved and an applicant is subsequently granted legal guardianship over the incapacitated persons financial affairs. Proper estate planning including a power of attorney can thus, prevent delays, additional costs, potential financial loss, loss of choice and financial hardship for beneficiaries.
In the absence of a power of attorney, the financial affairs of an incapacitated person enter a void until the public trustee is involved
Let’s consider a real life example. Mr. Smith has been showing significant memory loss. Fortunately, Mr. & Mrs. Smith had previously updated their Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney. Although they had traditionally managed their finances separately, the family decided that Mrs. Smith should start administering both portfolios.
A few points to consider from this example.
First, Mr. & Mrs. Smith saved themselves a considerable amount of work, frustration and potentially money by pro-actively having enduring powers of attorney. Could they locate, complete and submit an application for guardianship through the Public Trustee in the absence of an EPA in order for Mrs. Smith to legally administer her husband’s portfolio? Sure. But, in their 80’s and slowing down, it would have been a stressful experience! Contrast that to the relative simplicity of providing me, their Portfolio Manager a certified copy of the EPA, thereby, granting authority to Mrs. Smith over all of Mr. Smith’s accounts, which included a Cash account, TFSA and Registered Retirement Income fund.
Second, through this experience I began a conversation with Mrs. Smith about her investments, which were spread out between two RIF’s, two Cash accounts and an underfunded TFSA at several financial institutions. It became clear that if she were to become incapacitated, and if the only adult daughter were to be given authority over her parent’s financial affairs, things would be difficult to manage, despite having a proper EPA.
The daughter would have to locate all of her mother’s portfolios at the various financial institutions, make an appointment with each, visit each location and provide them a copy of the EPA granting her decision making authority over that account. Thus, having an EPA is important and so is some organization. By consolidating her portfolios into one cash account, one RIF and a TFSA at a single financial institution, they have avoided the considerable extra stress that would have been caused had Mrs. Smith become incapable of managing their financial affairs.
If you would like more information or have any questions, feel free to contact us at 780.466.6204, or click here to send us an email.
Thanks to Chris Turnbull of The Index House for providing this article.
The Index House is a division of Polaris Financial Inc.
Chris's Contact Information
Other Posts by Chris
The Enlightened Investor - Fees & Expenses
Fees and expenses are the single biggest reason professional money managers fail to outperform the market return. Learn a little more about what are reasonable fees and what makes up most investment fees.
The Enlightened Investor-Understanding Returns
One thing frustrated investors often lament are their returns. So here's a question. Do you know what your returns really are? Find out more about how to measure your returns including some great but simple investment benchmarks over the last 5 years.
The Enlightened Investor – Risk (ETF’s)
Investors often remark that the world economy has changed and that it's more volatile than ever. They are less trusting of stock markets and they don't want to take risk.
I can't say I blame them. I might ask though, if the world has changed, if it is more volatile, "how are you changing the
The Enlightened Investor - A Game Plan
Do you make investment decisions according to what looks good at the moment? These purchases are often based on opinion and influenced by emotion. It can be exciting - much like buying lottery tickets.
Clearly, following a predetermined, diversified, well-thought-out, long-term investment strategy is preferable. Here’s why.
Dalbar’s study of investor behavior shows how investor
The Enlightened Investor-Retirement Income
Eventually investors move from the “saving-years” to the “drawing-years”, when they want to start drawing an income from their portfolios.
This can be confusing. For many the natural inclination is to liquidate their diversified portfolio in favor of income-producing stocks or bonds. However, the idea that retired individuals should load up on dividend-paying common shares
The Enlightened Investor: Is Your Portfolio Leaking Tax?
It may be obvious to state that an investor only keeps the after-tax return. It is less obvious how to minimize the tax leakage from your portfolio.
A good starting point is to identify the two primary causes of tax; portfolio turnover and an inefficient portfolio structure.
Taxes resulting from portfolio turnover can cost you
The Enlightened Investor: A Diversified Portfolio vs. a Collection of Investments - “Recovery Returns”
Do you want a portfolio that’s vulnerable to wild swings in value? Likely not. In fact less volatile portfolios are both easier on the stomach and they help you achieve better long-term returns.
For example, a portfolio that declines 10% this year requires an increase of 12% next year to recover its losses. If your
The Enlightened Investor: A Diversified Portfolio vs. a Collection of Investments “The Only Two Things You Need to Know About Modern Portfolio Theory”
Our best technique for protecting portfolios is called Modern Portfolio Theory.
This Nobel Prize winning idea said it is insufficient to look at investments in isolation as is done in the traditional approach of picking stocks and bonds. Rather rational investors will seek out “efficiently diversified portfolios” offering the highest expected return for each level
The Enlightened Investor-Deadline for the $500 Alberta Centennial Education Savings Grant (ACES)
If you have a child that is 10 years old or younger (born in Alberta between January 1, 2005 and March 31, 2015) they are eligible for a one-time $500 grant from the provincial government. However, you only have until July 31, 2015 to submit the form and apply for this grant before it ends
The Enlightened Investor: What is meant by “market return”?
The investment industry and media often refer to the “market” and the “market return”.
Or that the market was up or down on the day and that a portfolio manager's return outperformed or underperformed the market return. So what exactly do they mean and how does it relate to you?
The market generally refers to
The Enlightened Investor - Moving Small LIRA’s to Your RSP
When you have a job transition, you may transfer your pension plan savings to a locked-in-retirement account (LIRA).
LIRA’s are similar to Retirement Savings Plans (RSP’s) but with more restrictions. Adding another investment account will also add extra administration to managing your retirement savings.
Alberta pension legislation allows people age 50 or older to transfer
The Enlightened Investor: A New Trustee Act for Alberta
Provincial legislation is periodically updated. In Alberta, a revised Wills and Succession Act came into effect in 2012, an updated Estate Administration Act was passed in 2015 and now an initiative is underway to co-ordinate the Trustee legislation across Canada.
The Alberta Trustee Act is the provincial legislation governing the administration of trusts. A trust
The Enlightened Investor:Calculating the Cost Base of a Security Held in Multiple Taxable Accounts
Congratulations! You just sold and realized a profit on that promising investment (stock, mutual fund, ETF etc.). When you’re done planning how to spend your windfall you might also consider how much tax you owe on that gain. Unless the sale occurred within a non-taxable RSP or TSFA.
Normally, this is fairly straightforward. You
The Enlightened Investor: Registered Account Investment Fees Are Not Deductible
In November 2016, Canada Revenue Agency warned investors who are deducting investment fees charged for the management of their registered accounts that they are subject to a tax penalty perhaps as great as that fee. A registered account is a TFSA, RSP, RIF and the various locked in versions.
Investment fees charged to registered accounts