What is the difference between a Power of Attorney and a Will?

Wills and Powers of Attorney are important documents that are complimentary to each other. It is appropriate for most adults to have both a Will and a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a document whereby an adult person names another person as his or her representative for specific legal purposes. In most cases, the Power of Attorney is restricted to being exercisable only in the event of incapacity of the person giving the Power of Attorney (the Donor). Accordingly if the Donor is incapacitated by illness or accident then the Attorney can step into the Donor shoes and make decisions that the Donor is unable to make. These decisions can relate to matters such as the ownership and management of real estate, the arranging of mortgages, the management of bank accounts and the handling of investments. On the other hand if a person is incapacitated and does not have a Power of Attorney then things become complicated. The person who believes that he or she is the rightful person to make decisions can apply through a complicated and expensive process to be appointed as a representative of the incapacitated individual. Even worse, the decisions can be made by the Public Trustee’s Office, a branch of the Ontario Civil Service. All-in-all arranging for the making of a Power of Attorney is a prudent course for any adult in Ontario owing assets. A Power of Attorney is valid only while the Donor is alive. Once a person has passed away then the document that deals with the deceased person’s estate is the Will.