Joint Accounts and Power of Attorneys are helpful tools used in certain situations to allow an individual to meet their financial needs with the assistance of another. There is a variety of situations when people consider a Power of Attorney and/or Joint Bank Account. In some cases it's because there are health concerns and in others it's a matter of convenience.
What is a Power of Attorney? A Power of Attorney is a legal document that you sign to give one person, or more than one person, the power 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.
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.
For some people, joint accounts and powers of attorney are helpful tools that allow them to have peace of mind, knowing there is a plan for the future if they encounter health challenges. However, joint accounts and powers of attorney can be used when you are perfectly healthy, too.
It is important that you understand these tools and how and when you may want them to be a part of your financial plan as there are advantages and risks associated with each tool.
Customers are encouraged to do research and/or seek legal advice on what may be best for them. See the Government of Canada's brochure on What every older Canadian should know about Powers of Attorney and Joint Bank Accounts for more information about these tools.