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Banking advice for seniors*

Many Canadians are concerned about how to manage their money, property, and finances as they age or as life changes take place. They may worry about what will happen if they become unable to deal with their own finances. It’s a good idea to plan ahead for a time when you may need help managing your affairs.

Two tools often used to manage financial affairs are powers of attorney and joint bank accounts. It is important to understand how a power of attorney or a joint bank account works before you use them. There are risks and advantages to both. You should never feel pressured to sign a power of attorney or to open a joint bank account. Carefully consider all of your options before making any decisions. Learn more about the information here.


About Power of Attorney

What is Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that you sign to give one person, or more than one person, the authority to manage your money and property on your behalf. In most of Canada, the person you appoint is called an “attorney.” That person does not need to be a lawyer.

Among other requirements, you must be mentally capable at the time you sign any type of power of attorney for it to be valid. In general, to be mentally capable means that you are able to understand and appreciate financial and legal decisions and understand the consequences of making these decisions. However, the legal definition of mental capacity will vary based on the laws in each province or territory.


Who can I ask to be my attorney?

You should ask someone you trust. You may choose your spouse, a close friend, a family member or anyone else that you trust. Carefully consider whether they are the best choice to manage your money and property, and do so in your best interest.

The minimum legal age for an attorney varies according to the province or territory where you live. The person you ask to be your attorney can refuse to act for you, so it is important to ask the person first if they are willing to take on this responsibility and everything that it entails. You should also consider appointing a substitute attorney in case the first attorney can no longer act for you.


What can a Power of Attorney do?

Unless you limit your attorney’s authority, they can do almost everything with your finances and property that you could do. If you don’t have any limitations in your power of attorney document, your attorney can do your banking, sign cheques, buy or sell real estate in your name, and buy consumer goods. Your attorney does not become the owner of any of your money or property. He or she only has the authority to manage it on your behalf.


About Joint Bank Accounts

What is a joint bank account?

Joint accounts are bank accounts in which two or more people have ownership rights over the same account. These rights include the right for all account holders to deposit, withdraw, or deal with the funds in the account, no matter who puts the money into the account.


How does a joint account work?

As a joint account holder, you share equal access to the account and responsibility for all the transactions made through the account. In most cases, unless you state otherwise, the other account holder can make transactions without your consent.

In some cases, it may be possible to specify that the consent of all joint account holders is required to access the funds in the account.

In many cases, joint accounts include the right of survivorship. This means that if one of the account holders dies, the surviving account holder becomes the owner of the account, with the right to deposit, withdraw, and deal with the funds in the account.



*Source: www.canada.ca.

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