the real/estate blog

Signing for yourself

Posted in Powers of Attorney,Real Estate by Cesia Green on February 8, 2013
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I have blogged before about arranging for a power of attorney in case anything needs to be done on your transaction while you are away. Today, I wanted to talk about running the entire deal through a power of attorney – when you are the purchaser.

As a vendor, using a power of attorney is not a big deal. Your lawyer will need to see the document and confirm that it appears valid, and may also need to do some investigating to ensure that the person who gave the power intended to give it to you and either approves of the transaction or is incapacitated. If you are buying, however, you have to be very careful that your lender will approve of the power of attorney being used to sign the paperwork. Some banks will flat out say no; others will depend on how well they know you. Also, the power of attorney will have to be registered along with the purchase, so be aware of that too as it will become a public document.

As always, be sure to clear it with your lawyer before you take off – it is much better to sign documents early than to be left with a firm agreement and a bank that won’t let someone sign for you.


Reviving the debate on physician-assisted suicide

Posted in End of Life Care,Estate Planning,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on December 11, 2012

Last week, I blogged about the Globe’s death series and the importance of living wills. This week I wanted to draw from that series again, but this time on a very different topic: euthanasia.

This past summer, the British Columbia Superior Court released its decision on Carter v. Attorney-General of Canada, and ruled that the provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code that prevented physician-assisted suicide were invalid. On July 13, the federal government announced that it would appeal the ruling; this case is likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court before it is finally decided.

In the Globe’s article, they profiled a family that allowed its story to be used in support of the court case. The story is powerful, about children who deeply loved their parents yet helped them both to die. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, I think you will be moved by it.

Controlling your care

Posted in End of Life Care,Estate Planning,Living Wills,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on December 4, 2012

Late last year, the Globe and Mail ran a whole series of articles on death. They discussed many topics related to death and dying, generally and specifically within Canada. In this particular article, the question is on end-of-life care: what happens when someone is dying, and their final wishes are unknown?

I have written before on the importance of having a Power of Attorney for Personal Care in place, with a living will directive contained inside it. Making the decision and writing it down means that what you want to have happen will, and also means that no one else has to bear the burden of making it.

Young, no kids, no assets: why do I need a will?

Posted in Estate Planning,Life insurance,Living Wills,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on October 23, 2012
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Historically, I have generally been of the view that you start needing a will when you have assets or dependants. So here is the question: what, exactly, constitutes having assets?

Most of us think of assets as being a house, a car, maybe some investments. However, these days, our assets also include a lot that is digital. I’ve blogged about this many times before, but there are a number of considerations that go along with having digital assets that should make you want to have your will up-to-date.

I regularly read Scott Zucker’s blog. He had a very interesting article a little while ago which was, primarily, a transcript of an intake interview he did with a 20-something client. She rented, had no kids, and had no major physical assets, but as you can see from this article she definitely needed some estate planning.

Before you decide that you don’t need to do anything, you might want to dig a little deeper and be sure.

Need a will, ask your doctor?

Posted in Estate Planning,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on September 4, 2012

I unfortunately get calls occasionally from people who are at the hospital, or who have loved ones at the hospital, who have discovered their illness is terminal and suddenly realize that they need to have a will drafted. It was no surprise to me, therefore, to read this article the other day about hospitals becoming hubs for estate planning.

Most Canadians do not have a will, and have not done any estate planning, because they don’t see it as terribly urgent – until suddenly it is. Don’t be a statistic. Have your will and powers of attorney done while you have time to think about them.

Donate your organs via Facebook

With all the hubbub about Facebook’s IPO last week, I thought I would write about something Facebook-related, namely donating your organs.


Facebook users in the US and UK can now use a new feature to sign up, via Facebook, with their local organ-donor registries. This will show on their timelines, and the idea is that peer pressure will have a positive effect on each donor’s friend lists, encouraging them to also sign up. While many people think of Facebook as a silly timewaster, this type of social media experiment shows the potential for a far-reaching, positive social network.

You can read a full article on this Facebook experiment over at PC World.

An update on the Rasouli case

Posted in End of Life Care,Estate Planning,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on May 1, 2012
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Last summer, I blogged about Hassan Rasouli, who had been in a near-vegetative state since contracting an infection after surgery in October 2010. His doctors had intended to remove life support against the wishes of his wife, who was named as his attorney in Mr. Rasouli’s Power of Attorney for Personal Care. At the time, the Ontario Court of Appeal had ruled that he could not be taken off life support without the consent of his attorney. That decision has been appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and in that case, a doctor has now stated that Mr. Rasouli is minimally conscious and may be paralyzed but aware.

Mr. Rasouli has apparently improved to the point of being in at least a minimally conscious state, and can apparently show a thumbs up when spoken to in Farsi. His family has stated, and this doctor appears to confirm, that this this means that he should be kept on life support until he is able to confirm for himself whether he wants such measures ended.

The debate about end of life care, including about euthanasia, is currently raging on in Canada. This case will surely be an important part of where this area of the law ends up.

Caring for your pet during incapacity

Laura West at the All About Estates blog posted last week about planning for your pet’s care during your incapacity. I have blogged before about pet trusts on your death, but it is also important to set up a plan for what will happen in case you are unable to care for your pet because of an injury or illness.

As Laura notes, pets are property and need to be dealt with in a Continuing Power of Attorney for Property. As with any specific directions you may have, you should speak with your attorney at the time you sign the Power of Attorney document to ensure that they are aware of your instructions and know what you wish them to do in the event that you can no longer care for yourself and/or your pet. Communication is always key in these situations.

The law is still very nebulous surrounding the care of pets on incapacity or death, but with some careful planning you should be able to ensure that your furry friend is cared for.

Protect your care

I recently returned from a much-needed vacation down south (which is also the reason this blog has been silent for a little while). On the plane ride home, I flipped through my movie options and came across The Descendants, which I was a little familiar with because of the recent Oscars. I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that Hollywood had made a movie about what I practice, as large parts of the plot line concerned the Rule Against Perpetuities and advance directives. I’ll talk more about perpetuities later this week, but for today I thought I would discuss advance directives.

Many people will remember Terri Schiavo, who was the subject of a major legal battle in the United States a few years back. She collapsed in her home, suffered extreme brain damage, and was in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years until her death in 2005. For the last seven years of her life, her husband and parents fought a protracted legal battle over whether her feeding tube should be removed and she should be allowed to die, with her husband eventually being found to have the authority to end her life supportive treatments.

In The Descendants, Elizabeth King suffers a similarly traumatic injury, but she has signed an advance directive detailing her wishes in the event that she cannot survive without life support. This takes the decision away from her husband, who must simply allow her wishes to be carried out, and does not need to decide what she might have wanted.

In Ontario, the document used to direct your care is called a Power of Attorney for Personal Care. In creating such a document, you are given the ability to choose who is to make decisions and what decisions they are to make. In my opinion, this is one of the most important documents you can have in place. It allows you to be the person who decides what happens with your care and, perhaps even more importantly, who makes those decisions, so that what is done is what you would have done if you could have made the decision yourself. If you are over 16, you owe it to yourself to have a Power of Attorney in place.

Why plan when you’re going to live to 100?

Posted in Estate Planning,Living Wills,Powers of Attorney by Cesia Green on November 1, 2011

Over the summer, I discovered the blog of the brilliant Candice Aiston, a lawyer out of Portland, Oregon who works in the area of estate planning. My favourite post of hers so far, by far, is her essay on planning for the unexpected.

As Candice notes, asking whether you will live to be 100 is the wrong question. The right question is, what happens if I don’t? What happens if I’m one of the 120,000-odd people (in the US alone) who dies between the ages of 25 and 44? What happens if I’m in an accident, and I survive?

The impact of having a will in place and living to be 100 is excellent. The impact of not having a will in place and dying at 47, or of not having a power of attorney in place and being in an accident at 32, is incredibly far-reaching and potentially devastating, both for you and your family. Plan on living to 100 – but also plan on protecting yourself along the way.

[Link used with permission. Candice N. Aiston is an Estate Planning Attorney for families in the Portland, Oregon area.  She helps loving parents to prepare their families for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance.  If you would like to receive her free report, “The 9 Common Planning Mistakes Parents Make,” please visit]
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