Let me start by saying conscious incompetence is a great place to start when you’re the named an Enduring Power of Attorney. Not many people are fully aware of all of the responsibilities involved in undertaking the role of Enduring Power of Attorney. Knowing that you don’t know everything allows you to start by learning. Having said that, there are lots of places to learn more, and gain both the knowledge and skills you will need when undertaking your role.
Start with familiarizing yourself with the law. Power of Attorney is provincially legislated, so you can begin by searching the provincial or territorial websites to learn which activities you are responsible for, how you are expected to undertake those activities and what records you are required to keep.
Additionally, leverage Exit Savvy’s Enduring Power of Attorney workbook. This tool has been designed to help organize the Planner’s financial information for you. Ideally, the workbook is completed by the Planner with the individual who has been named as the Enduring Power of Attorney in their legal documents; however, the resource is valuable even if picked up when the Planner is no longer able to contribute to its completion. It will serve as a guide for what information to search for.
In summary, once you are sure that there is a legal declaration of incompetence, one of your first steps as a Power of Attorney is to identify what the Planners’ assets, scheduled payments and debts are. The workbook will help you make a list. Depending upon the circumstances of incapacity, you may be required to act as the Power of Attorney for many years. Establishing a system for tracking your activities and keeping meticulous accounting records is essential.
Don’t underestimate the value of professional partners and the advice they can provide to you. Accountant’s, Lawyers and Financial Planners offer services that can save you a lot of work, errors and money. Don’t let the fact that they charge fees for their services mislead you into believing you can manage without professional advice – unless you are a certified accountant, lawyer or financial planner yourself, a conversation with each of these professionals is well worth the investment. Exit Savvy is happy to refer you to firms that can support you in your work if you don’t have contacts of your own.