From time to time, it becomes necessary to revisit the laws and legal systems of the province to ensure they still meet the needs of the population. The laws that cover wills and estates are no exception. Recently, the Law Commission of Ontario issued a report regarding the power of attorney system. The report commented on the state of the system as it stands today, and made numerous recommendations for possible improvements.
Much of what is currently on the books for power of attorney is approaching 30 years old. As such, it may not reflect the current state of the province, which has seen an increase in diversity since the late 1980s and early 1990s. That diversity is clearly evident here in York Region and the GTA. A total of 58 recommendations have been made to bring the system up to date.
The belief of the Commission is that many people are confused about their responsibilities after being granted power of attorney. Additionally, many attorneys report having difficulty finding all the information they need to fulfill their duties. Some of the recommendations include further education of those who have been granted power of attorney.
Further recommendations include streamlining and standardizing the process of assessing capacity. There are 26 health colleges in Ontario, and each one can set its own standards for determining mental and/or physical competency. They also hope to see the unification of the two bodies that currently settle capacity and guardianship disputes.
Holding the power of attorney for an individual is a serious responsibility that may have a large impact on that person's life. One does not want to make mistakes or take ill-advised action. Anyone in York Region, GTA or surrounding area with questions about granting or accepting the power of attorney, or about wills and estates in general, may wish to speak with a lawyer who understands the importance and complexity of the role.
Source: citynews.ca, "Law Commission of Ontario report urges changes to power of attorney systems", Michelle McQuigge, March 8, 2017