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Power of attorney

Key information

What is power of attorney?


Power of attorney is a contract by which you (the grantor1) appoint another person (the agent or attorney2) to act on your behalf in legal matters. You can draft it yourself or with the help of a legal advisor and change it and cancel it at any time, provided you are of sound mind.3

The power of attorney must include

  • The date it was drafted
  • The grantor's name
  • The name(s) of the attorney(s)
  • The powers and obligations of the attorney
  • A description of the duties of the attorney
  • The grantor's signature
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Quick tip

Ask for a power of attorney form by scheduling an appointment at the branch. Consult a legal advisor to make sure the template meets your needs and doesn't conflict with any other powers of attorney in effect.

6 things to remember

Verbal or in writing

In some cases, a power of attorney can be granted verbally, but in most cases, it has to be put in writing. This allows you to easily prove the terms of the contract if an issue arises and confirms that your attorney is not an imposter. This is the only type of power of attorney recognized by National Bank.

Types of power of attorney used in Canada

The types of power of attorney available vary based on your province or territory.

See types of power of attorney

Choosing an attorney

The power of attorney is authorized to manage your finances and property on your behalf. Be sure to choose a person you trust (your spouse, a close friend or family member) and consult a legal expert when drawing up the terms of the power of attorney and determining the scope of the powers being granted.

Attorney's legal responsibilities

The attorney must follow the instructions contained within the power of attorney and act in your best interest. If we receive questionable instructions from your attorney, we will inform you (whenever possible) and thoroughly investigate the situation where appropriate.

Advantages

Power of attorney allows you to choose who will manage your finances if you are absent or become incapacitated. Instructions set out in the document are legally binding.

Risks

The attorney is legally required to justify how they manage your finances and property. However, the contract involves an inherent risk that they misuse your finances or make decisions that are not in your best interest.

Regularly update your power of attorney to ensure that it still meets your needs and legal requirements, and that your attorney is the best fit for you.

Little details that matter

How to submit a power of attorney to the Bank

In some provinces and territories, you'll need a witness to sign the power of attorney. In Quebec, the contract does not need to be witnessed or notarized. When adding a power of attorney to your account, we will confirm your and your attorney's identities. This helps us ensure that your identity is not being stolen and that applicable legislation like the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act is being adhered to.

You must provide two pieces of ID, including one from the list provided in the Access to Basic Banking Services pamphlet. We also require a copy of the power of attorney document for our files (original or certified copy). We'll perform the necessary checks when you present a power of attorney at National Bank. For example, if the document raises questions about the scope of power granted to your attorney, we may investigate the matter. In such cases, we keep you informed of the timeframe needed to complete our review, which could be several business days.

Types of power of attorney used in Canada

General Power of Attorney or Regular Power of Attorney
  • Effective immediately
  • Not valid in case of incapacity
  • The attorney is authorized to handle day-to-day affairs
  • The grantor can supervise the attorney
Protection mandate (Quebec only)
  • Only effective in case of incapacity and must be ratified by the court to come into effect
Power of Attorney for Personal Care (provinces other than Quebec)
  • Comes into effect in the event of incapacity

Continuing Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney

(Canada except Quebec)

  • Effective immediately
  • Remains in effect even if the grantor is incapacitated
  • The most common type of power of attorney
Limited Power of Attorney
  • Authorizes your grantor to complete a well-defined task (like selling a house) or grants specific powers for a limited time
  • Effective on the signing date or on the date specified in the document
Enduring or springing power of attorney
  • Effective further to an event listed in the power of attorney occurs
  • Can be any event, but generally when the grantor becomes incapable of managing their affairs

Reporting issues and settling complaints

In most cases, the best course of action is to contact staff or the customer service manager at your branch.

For the complete complaint settlement process, please see our pamphlet, For Better Banking Relations with You.

Full pamphlet and additional information

For more information about power of attorney and joint accounts, visit the Government of Canada website or check out the Power of Attorney and Joint Account pamphlet.

Legal disclaimers

1. The client who designates an individual in a document (power of attorney) to handle certain tasks on his/her behalf.

2. The individual designated by the client in the power of attorney to carry out the specified tasks.

3. In general, to be deemed competent, you must be able to understand and grasp the meaning and consequences of financial and legal decisions. By law, you must be deemed competent when you sign a power of attorney for the document to be valid.

Understanding power of attorney

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Man's hands signing a paper document

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