Assigning Power of Attorney (PoA) With Confidence

Incapacity planning, ensuring that there’s a strategy in place if you ever become incapable of managing your affairs, is important.

We all know that. Yet, it’s uncomfortable to think about and therefore easy to put off doing.

A key part of incapacity planning is assigning power of attorney (a legal document giving someone else the right to act on your behalf), but it’s also the biggest hurdle. Giving extra thought to who you choose, and what powers they’ll be granted, can give you the peace of mind to complete your plan with confidence.

Choosing your lawyer

Choosing someone you trust to assign power of attorney is essential. Acting as your attorney involves significant duties and obligations. Your attorney’s overarching duty is to act with honesty, integrity and in good faith for your benefit if you become incapable.

The law lays out specific obligations for the person chosen to hold your power of attorney. Among other things, they will:

  • explain their powers and duties to the incapable person
  • encourage the incapable person, to the best of their abilities, to participate in decisions concerning their property
  • foster regular personal contact between the incapable person and supportive family members and friends, and
  • keep account of all transactions involving the grantor’s property.

The attorney or attorneys you choose to act on your behalf should know these rules, and be aware of other rules set out in the act as well.

For instance, they’re expected to ensure you have a will and, if so, know its provisions. The main reason for this is that your attorney must not sell or transfer property that’s subject to a specific gift in the will, unless necessary.

The act also contains explicit instructions regarding both required and optional expenditures. Examples of the latter include charitable gifts where an incapable person made similar expenditures when capable and so long as sufficient assets are available. Your attorney should also be familiar with rules covering how or when he or she can resign, what compensation they may be entitled to and the standard of care expected of them.

Safeguarding your estate

You can also build a second opinion directly into your power of attorney documents by appointing more than one person. If you name two or more people, they’ll need to act unanimously unless the document states otherwise.

A joint appointment provides a level of protection in that any appointed attorneys must agree on all actions, while a “joint and several” appointment grants flexibility, allowing any one attorney to conduct business independently.

Many people choose to appoint the same people or trust companies to be both their power of attorneys and their executors. Although you don’t need to do so, the same list of key traits – expertise, availability, accountability and trustworthiness – apply to both roles.

It’s also possible to limit the powers granted to your attorney. If you’d like your attorney to act only for a specified time period (maybe a vacation or hospital stay) or in respect of a specific transaction (the closing of a real estate deal), a limited or specific power of attorney is worth considering.

In the case of a general continuing power of attorney, many people want the document to be used only if and when they become incapable of managing their affairs themselves.

Although the document is effective when signed, it is possible to include provisions in the document itself that defers it to a future date or the occurrence of a specified condition (for example, the grantor has a stroke). These are sometimes referred to as “springing” powers of attorney.

Whichever way you prepare your power of attorney documents, careful consideration of who you choose as well as availing yourself of available safeguards will help ensure your confidence in your incapacity plan.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Making a quick decision: Many people name their PoAs without thinking about their choice’s financial capability, much less their ability to get along with other family members.
  2. Assuming family is always the best choice: It’s far more important to choose someone who truly has your client’s best interests at heart.
  3. Waiting too long: If there’s already a question of diminishing capacity, it’s likely too late to make a power of attorney ironclad.
  4. Not reviewing it: Changing life circumstances and new provincial legislation can make an old PoA invalid.

Plan for Incapacity

Your estate plan doesn’t end with an up-to-date will. It should also anticipate possible future incapacity, which usually means preparing powers of attorney for both property and personal care.

Power of attorney, a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf, has two main types: one for management of property, another for personal care.

Will and estate planners generally advise preparing both types of powers of attorney. While they are often prepared at the same time as your will, they can be created at any time.

Personal care

With a power of attorney for personal care, you can authorize someone to make decisions concerning your personal care in the event that you become incapable of making them yourself.

You can give power of attorney for personal care if you’re at least 16 years old, have “the ability to understand whether the proposed attorney has a genuine concern” for your welfare, and can appreciate that the attorney may need to make decisions.

Personal care includes decisions concerning health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety.

Property

A continuing power of attorney for property authorizes someone to do anything regarding your property that you could do if capable, except make a will.

The law says you’re capable of giving a power of attorney for property if you’re at least 18 years of age, know what kind of property you have, along with its rough value, and are aware of any obligations owed to your dependants.

The term “continuing” (sometimes called “enduring”) refers to a power of attorney that may be exercised during the grantor’s subsequent incapacity to manage property. Ensure the document stipulates that you want the power of attorney to be used only if you become incapable.

What you need to know

A continuing power of attorney for property is a powerful document. Unless otherwise stated in the document, it’s effective when signed, granting considerable power.

In fact, the act explicitly requires you to acknowledge this authority can be misused. And, as part of the capacity test for granting a continuing power of attorney, you must also acknowledge the property you own may decline in value if not properly managed.

A financial institution, land titles office or other third party presented with a continuing power of attorney for property with the restriction “effective only in the event of the grantor’s incapacity” will want evidence of the incapacity.

That evidence could be hard to get. One solution is to set out terms of use in a separate document and have all original copies of the power of attorney held by a trusted third party. You could, for example, direct that document be released only if:

  • You tell the attorney you want him or her to start acting;
  • You are legally declared incapable of managing your property;
  • One or more doctors advise that you’d benefit from assistance in managing your affairs; or
  • Certain family members advise the attorney should begin acting.

No direction could be costly

If you fail to prepare power of attorney documents, it may take an application to court before someone can be appointed to make decisions for you. That can leave you scrambling when you’re in no physical shape do so. Having a will doesn’t help because an executor is only authorized to act after you die.

On top of that, court processes can be both costly and time-consuming. Depending on the circumstances, the Public Guardian and Trustee may have to get involved.

You also lose the opportunity to appoint people or companies of your choosing and aren’t able to establish parameters regarding the actions of your substitute decision makers.

Why Are Divorce Lawyers Required?

What is divorce? It is the legal act performed by married couples to end their marriage. Divorce is the ultimate step that couples take in marriages that have problems. It is not very favorable, but, in situations where it cannot be avoided; it should be handled with utmost care. Divorces are sensitive issues and leave lifelong scars. The main purpose of a divorce is end the marriage altogether. It can become a messy and long drawn process if it is not handled properly.

In the U.S., each state has its own set of laws regarding divorce. Therefore, Oregon too has its own set of laws.

So how does one go about a divorce? It is not a cheap process and requires a strong mind. If children are involved, the situation gets more complicated. The first thing to be done, when filing for divorce, is to get a good lawyer. It is most important that the client is honest with the lawyer, as the more the lawyer knows about the case the better his appeal will be.

Good divorce lawyers are ones that can handle the case in such a manner that the damage to the people involved is minimal.

Some points are to be kept in mind while appointing a divorce lawyer:

1. It is recommended that a person should consult at least three lawyers before finally choosing one.

2. A good and experienced divorce lawyer should be able to answer any query the client may have regarding divorce proceedings.

3. He should have a good idea of the local laws of divorce.

4. He should be up to date with the recent changes in the law.

5. The fees of the lawyer are another important factor to be kept in mind. Generally the more complicated the case, the higher the fee is.

6. He should not forget that the way in which he handles the case affects the emotions of the people involved.

The other areas that have to be taken care of while filing for a divorce are the custody of the children and the terms of child support. This is one of the most difficult parts, trying to decide what is best for the child. A good lawyer will be able to suggest a path that is beneficial to both parties.

How to Pick the Best Lawyer or a Legal Firm

There’s a myth that you are in a trouble if you need a lawyer. Well, that’s partially true. Lawyers can really help you solve big problems or even avoid them. Yet, you may need legal services in everyday situations, for example when buying or selling real estate or an auto. A good lawyer is like a good doctor: either you are 100% honest with him/her or things may get even worse. So, what are the most important considerations when hiring a lawyer?

Money

Good lawyers are expensive. Well, that’s not quite true. Good lawyers are incredibly expensive. They hourly charges may be just cosmic. Of course, you should clearly understand why you need a legal practitioner and how much money you can save or get by winning the case. So, obviously you do not need a famous barrister who never lost a single case, if it is a $2,000 court suit. Yes, winning such a simple case is a piece of cake for a seasoned professional, but do you really need waste much money just to win? Hourly rates and changes usually depend on complexity of the case and its price (i.e. how much money is at stake).

Experience

Bear in mind that a lawyer specializing in homicides may be helpless at civil court, especially when it comes to monetary claims. Even the best criminal lawyer may lose a simple case concerning personal injury claims, because he/she had no experience in this field. Therefore, you have to pick a lawyer who is great at particular cases. Good lawyers have excellent reputation and personal sites with recommendations from clients and information on their experience. Many lawyers offer 100% guarantees of winning the case, simply because they know they can win. Yes, those specialists can be somewhat expensive, however, it a positive outcome is what you need, you should not economize.

Maybe no lawyer at all?

Yes, some issues may not require professional legal assistance. So, if you perform a good research you can fix the problem all by yourself. Yet, if you know you lack attention to little details, you’d better let professionals to their job. You can get into a big trouble. You’d better not joke with the law and the government!

Sure, the easiest way to look for a good legal practitioner is to go online. As already said above, law firms and individual experts have websites with the most complete information on available services and prices. Finally, let’s get back to a simple rule: be honest with your lawyer!

3 Tips to Find the Best Lawyer

Do you have trouble finding a legal representative for your case? Is your case a complex and unique case where no ordinary lawyer can handle? Does your case require special handling and fragile proceedings? If you do, the you might need a lawyer who is best for your case!

A lawyers job is to legally represent you in the court of law and also to protect you to the maximum legal law possible. If a lawyer does not represent you up to their best legal abilities, then that lawyer will be examined by the legal jurisdiction of your state for mus-representation and other legal consequences. But no lawyer is equal, and it may mean the difference between a ruling that isn’t in your favour!

Here are 3 tips to find the best lawyer!

1. The internet

The internet is one of the best sources to get the best lawyer for you. The reason why the internet is the best place to get the best legal representation for you is because you can search for specific lawyers who specialises in specific law areas. For instance, if you are in the proceeding for a workers compensation claim, then it is best to go to search on the internet for a workers compensation lawyer who specialises in this area. They have the experience and the legal expertise to get the best compensation for you!

2. Find lawyers who have won a large percentage of cases

It is best to find lawyers who have won a majority of their cases. This is because you will then have a higher chance of winning because they have won a majority of their cases. People who have won a large percentage of their cases means that they know how to find all the loopholes in the law. The more loopholes the lawyer knows, the better you can win your case!

3. Find a lawyer who can communicate with you in easy to understand English

You will be surprised to find that the majority of lawyers out there have very poor English or communication skills. To win a case, a lawyer must have excellent communication skills so they can give the best evidence and argument for your case! A simple way to know if they have good communication skill is if they can explain a legal document in easy to understand English and they don’t use legal or law language that you don’t understand!

Keep Your Kid Safe On The Internet! Law Enforcement Agencies And Citizen Groups

I have already submitted a couple of articles about the dangers the internet holds for children. My next series of articles will be about the various citizen groups and law enforcement agencies that work to deter or stop predators and keep children safe online.

The first group I want to cover is a group called Perverted Justice. Their “nickname”, or what they are also known as is PeeJ. Perverted Justice is a citizen group that was set up for the purpose of identifying adults willing to have chat room sexual encounters with minors. Millions of Americans have seen this group in action during the operation series called “To Catch a Predator” that Dateline NBC carried out on the air.

The people who make up Perverted Justice are volunteers. These volunteers carry out sting operations, using “young” sounding screen names, such as sara_so_bored. They then wait for older men to approach them in chatrooms. The volunteers of PeeJ do not make the first contact with the adults, but instead wait to be approached.

Once the men approach the volunteer (who they think is a young teen girl or boy), the volunteer works to get identifying information from the men; information such as a phone number. This information is usually given during talk about setting up an offline meeting with the perceived minor. The PeeJ volunteer then uses a Reverse Look Up service to find out the name of the person who owns the telephone number, and passes the information on to law enforcement.

Perverted Justice was started in 2002 by Xavier Von Erck of Portland Oregon, who got the idea after watching men attempt to woo young girls in chatrooms in Oregon. Von Erck says that PeeJ is a computer watchdog agency that works closely with law enforcement. During the ‘To Catch a Predator’ stings put on by Dateline NBC, Perverted Justice was actually temporarily deputized by law enforcement, since some of the operation was required by law to have been carried out by members of law enforcement.

Von Erck goes on to say that “The media likes to use the term vigilante because it gets attention, but we don’t consider ourselves vigilantes. We cultivate cooperation with police and work within the law to get justice, not outside of the law.”

Perverted Justice’s volunteers act as bait in chatrooms where children and minors can often be found. The profiles the volunteers set up have youthful sounding nicknames and often pictures of children. The volunteers do not initiate contact with the men, but instead wait for the men to first come to them. They refuse to act on tips from internet users, to avoid the risk that someone might use the website for purposes of revenge.

If a man starts chatting with the volunteer and turns the conversation toward sex, the volunteer attempts to obtain identifying information from the man; information such as a telephone number so that a “meeting can be arranged”.

In years past, the chatlog and details would then be published on Perverted Justice’s website. However, beginning in 2003, the organization began its “Information First” program, in which interested police departments could contact Perverted Justice, and any busts made within the jurisdiction of that department would be sent to them without having been posted to the website.

In the early days, PeeJ did not initiate contact with the police, due to the difficulty of prosecuting online criminals in a court of law. Because the law has evolved in such a way that law enforcement now CAN and regularly DOES prosecute online criminals, PeeJ has switched to a policy of cold calling local police with the information they obtained. If a one of the government agencies is interested (police, FBI, military CID, etc.) then the chatlog and other information is not posted to the site until after a conviction has been reached.

To date, Perverted Justice has been responsible for over 100 convictions of online predators. Some of those convictions were witnessed by television-watching Americans, glued to their T.V. screens during the airing of Dateline NBC’s To Catch a Predator series. One of these “public convictions” was a rabbi, who entered a home with the intention of having sexual relations with a minor boy. The “candid-camera” photograph of this rabbi as he was caught by Dateline NBC is posted on my website, which is dedicated to keeping kids safe online.

My website is interactive and includes a place for parents, educators, and interested parties to post methods of keeping kids safe online, as well as a message board where people can chat about online safety and what can be done. I have a page that shows Internet Safety in the news, as well as a page dedicated to educating parents on what can be done to “keep your kid safe on the internet”. Everyone is welcome.