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.

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Choose your own Attorney

Posted in Elder abuse,End of Life Care,Estate Planning by Cesia Green on September 18, 2012
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Here’s another reason (if you need one) to be very, very careful about who you choose as your attorney (for care in this case, but property is relevant too): a woman in Missouri is accused of murdering her father by using a Power of Attorney to withhold treatment and cause his death.

Choosing the proper attorney is very important. This is obviously an extreme case, and there are questions about the validity of the Power of Attorney document, but it highlights the fact that, if you don’t prepare a document yourself, someone could arrange for treatment that you really don’t want.

You can read more about the case here.

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.