Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the right to act on your behalf.
True or False: If you give a Power of Attorney to someone, they have the right to use it as they see fit.
We asked Ottawa and 40.5% said the answer was 'True', while 49.5% said 'False' and 10% said they were not sure.
- The Answer is False. The person you've named in your Power of Attorney can only make decisions that benefit you and not him/herself. Any person who misappropriates or transfers property or money into their own name using a Power of Attorney may be subject to criminal charges, namely Theft by Person Holding Power of Attorney under Section 331 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
- Avoid joint bank accounts and joint ownership of any property
- Protect your banking information
- Choose your Power of Attorney (POA) wisely and be aware that you can change your Power of Attorney at any time
- Be aware that the moment your Continuing Power of Attorney for Property document is signed and witnessed by two people, the person being given POA status has immediate control over all of your assets, bank accounts and property. Adding a triggering clause to the “Conditions and Restrictions” area of your POA document will limit this access and ensure that it is used only at a time that YOU choose is right for you (for instance when, where, by whom and under what circumstances should the POA document be used/invoked)
- Consider a joint Power of Attorney (naming two people to share the responsibility). This minimizes the temptation and increases accountability at the same time
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Steps to become safer
- Tell someone you trust what is happening to you
- Ask for help if you need it
- Keep emergency phone numbers stored in a safe place
- Keep emergency money in a safe and private place
- Have extra clothing on hand for emergency situations
- Identify a safe place to go in case of emergency
- Keep a list of your medications, and the name and phone number of your pharmacy
- Keep copies of your identification
- Keep records of your cheque book, credit cards, bank book
- Do not give personal information over the phone, including credit cards and banking information
Protection is available
- Background checks are done or should be done for those working with vulnerable persons
- Restraining orders, ensuring individuals cannot come in contact with you, or cannot work with vulnerable persons can be obtained under certain circumstances.
- If an abuser is charged and the crime committed relates to anger issues or an addiction, rehabilitation or anger management can be a condition placed upon an accused party. The criminal courts may impose further conditions upon sentencing.
- Victims’ input is of paramount importance throughout the investigation and trial.