News & Events
Power of attorney changes may be coming
This article discusses the changes Ontario's Bill 21, the Protection of Vulnerable and Elderly People from Abuse Act (Powers of Attorney), will bring about if it is passed.
On December 6, 2011, Queen's Park passed first reading of Ontario's Bill 21, the Protection of Vulnerable and Elderly People from Abuse Act (Powers of Attorney), 2011. As it has only passed first reading, the Bill is not law, and will not be unless it passes two more readings, goes through committee and ultimately receives Royal Assent, (reminiscent of School House Rock's "I am Bill, I am only a Bill"). However, if this Bill makes it all the way to law, it will change the duties of persons appointed to care for the property of others under a power of attorney in Ontario. (In Ontario, as in many other provinces, a person appointed under a power of attorney is called an "attorney", but despite the potentially confusing name, an attorney does not need to be a lawyer, and can be anyone who legally qualifies.)
There are two particularly noteworthy features of the Bill. First, it introduces an unprecedented requirement that an attorney provide an annual accounting to the Public Guardian and Trustee (also known as the PGT, which is an office of the Ministry of the Attorney General) and, if requested, to the grantor (the person who appoints the attorney). The information to be reported includes the assets and liabilities of the grantor, and the compensation taken by the attorney.
Second, the Bill requires the PGT to create a register of attorneys. The registry will contain specific information if the grantor chooses to provide it, including the name and address of the grantor and the attorney, any restrictions on the attorney's authority, the date the attorney's authority took effect and the persons to whom the grantor authorizes the PGT to disclose information. That information can then be shared by the PGT (for a fee) with certain members of the grantor's family, and the people authorized in the power of attorney. This is a voluntary registry so many people may not choose to take this step (which may make it difficult for the annual accounting requirement.)