The Stress of Being a Power of Attorney

May 15, 2019 | Marc Morais


My mother and father have been acting Power of Attorneys (POA) for my mémé (“mem EH" - French for grandmother) for quite some time now. Recently, my mémé experienced a temporary but fast decline in her health, which forced her out of her retirement home. She was left with very little time to find a new living arrangement. This sent my mom and her sisters scrambling to find a spot in a nursing home where Mémé could be comfortable, all while juggling their jobs, family responsibilities, and their own health concerns. And this is just a recent example; I have witnessed my parents experience the ongoing stress of caring for my mémé’s health and personal finance decisions over the last several years.

We certainly can’t take all the worry away of caring for your loved one(s), but one of the methods we’ve seen success with in easing the pressure associated with the POA’s responsibility is by encouraging individuals to speak to their family members about their wishes for personal care and finances before their health becomes a more serious issue.

POA’s who have not had the opportunity to have these discussions prior to their loved ones losing their capacity to make their own choices find it even more difficult to make decisions on their behalf, as they feel unsure as to what he or she might have wanted. Additionally, there is the possibility that any financial decisions made by a POA may be scrutinized by other family members or beneficiaries of the estate.

If it is too late to have these conversations with your loved one(s), not to worry -- our experience and expertise allows us to offer guidance and advice tailored to you and your family’s unique situation at any stage, especially when it comes to:

  • Investment portfolios – minimize risk while still providing income/growth needed
  • Joint accounts pros, cons, potential pitfalls
  • Selling the family home – how much tax to expect, how to invest the proceeds etc.
  • Beneficiary designations – how and when to use them
  • Tax minimization – when to trigger capital gains, draw on RRIF’S, take advantage of Tax Free Savings accounts etc.
  • Old Age Security claw back – what is it, can it be avoided, should it be avoided

The sooner the topics above are addressed the better, as the longer you wait, the less effective the planning may become.