There are two types of Powers of Attorney, a General Power of Attorney, usually just called a Power of Attorney, and an Enduring Power of Attorney. In Alberta, the law that creates Powers of Attorney is called the Powers of Attorney Act.
General Powers of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney is a written, signed, dated and witnessed document in which you appoint someone else, while you are still alive, to act on your behalf with respect to your financial affairs. This can include paying bills, depositing and investing money on your behalf, arranging for tax returns to be filed, and even selling your house or other real estate, if you specifically give that power. You are called the “Donor” and the person you name to make your financial decisions is known as your “Attorney”. A Power of Attorney can only deal with your financial matters. For personal decisions, such as health care, you need another legal document called a Personal Directive. A Power of Attorney is only valid while you have mental capacity. Should you lose mental capacity, it ceases to have any effect.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is similar to a General Power of Attorney. It is a written, signed, dated and witnessed document in which you appoint someone else to act on your behalf with regard to your financial matters. As with a General Power of Attorney, the person you appoint may make a wide range of financial decisions for you, depending on what powers you choose to give them. However, an Enduring Power of Appointment is different from a General Power of Appointment in a very important way. As the name suggests, an Enduring Power of Appointment specifically states that it will continue after you lose mental capacity. In this way, you can plan ahead to be sure that your financial affairs will continue to be taken care of if and when you lose mental capacity.
Your Enduring Power of Attorney:
- may take effect immediately once you have signed it and will continue even if you lose your mental capacity in the future; or
- may take effect at some time in the future, when an event you specify occurs, usually your loss of mental capacity.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is sometimes called a “springing Power of Attorney” because it “springs” into effect when a specific event happens.
If you become mentally incapacitated and you do not have an Enduring Power of Attorney, a court will have to appoint a Trustee to make financial decisions on your behalf under the Adult Guardianship and Trustee Act.
For more information, see:
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about General Powers of Attorney in Alberta.
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about Making an Enduring Power of Attorney in Alberta.
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about Being an Attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney in Alberta.
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act.
If you would like multiple copies of any of the above booklets, you can order them for free.
The above information relates to the law in Alberta. For links to information on similar documents in other jurisdictions please see our page of Additional Resources.