Wills & Powers of Attorney: Why It Is So Important

Although it’s grim to think about being incapacitated by illness or an accident, it does happen and it’s best to be prepared in case of an unforeseen emergency.  When you appoint a person with “power of attorney”, you trust that person to make decisions for you in case you’re unable to because of illness, accident or absence.

You can appoint you partner, an adult child or a friend as long as they are willing to act on your behalf and are trustworthy. You may even prefer to select an impartial power of attorney from a trust company.

Here’s why it’s so important: without a power of attorney, no one can sign legal documents or cheques for you. This means bills can be left unpaid, and your dependents may go indefinitely without the benefit of your financial support.  Your assets will be locked up.  If you have people depending on you, there’s nothing they can do except apply to the court for the power to act which can be a drawn out process. This will occur unless you’ve given someone legal permission to take care of your financial business.

While you may not need a lawyer to complete this document and you can even sign a power of attorney document at your bank for your accounts there, a lawyer is able to offer a more encompassing one.  It’s a good idea to have a professional solicitor review the document to ensure that everything’s clear and you haven’t missed anything.

Be careful whom you appoint and how much power you give to your attorney.  A power of attorney is a very powerful tool and gives permission to the appointee to do whatever you can do, except make a will.  You can give unlimited power or it could be restricted to a period of time, type of property or specific conditions.

Be aware that a power of attorney is void upon your death.

Living Wills: Power of Attorney for Personal Care

A power of attorney for property takes care of your property.  A living will takes care of you.  It’s a document that outlines life-support measures you would or would not accept, or other details regarding your medical care in case you’re unable to make decisions for yourself.

Living wills do not have full legal status in some provinces and the rules can vary by province.  Without a living will, decisions concerning your body and your life could be made by a provincial government agency or by medical professionals.

Last Will & Testament

Don’t let the people you love try to guess how you’d like to leave this world.  You may not want to think about your funeral but if you take the time to do this, you’ll spare others the pain of making what should really be your decision.  When my relative passed away there was a disagreement as to whether he wanted to be cremated or buried in the family plot intact.  It caused a severe rift in family relationships.  Be sure to include this information in your will.

Pay Now, Die Later

You can plan your funeral in advance so that when you die and your family is in mourning, they will know exactly what you wanted.  You can arrange everything in advance and pre-pay your funeral.  Your will should contain all the details and costs so that no one has to guess what has been done and what still needs to be done.

It’s important to think about these things because whatever you do to lessen the pain of your death for the people you care about is a loving and generous act. See what’s right for you by requesting your free, no-obligation consultation today.

Jaclyn is a new lawyer in Omemee and has opened a home office located on the main street in Omemee at King St E at Hughes St (89 King St E).

Please call the office to make an appointment to discuss how Giffen Legal can serve you better!

Jaclyn P. Giffen, J.D., M.A. H.B.Soc.Sci.
Barrister & Solicitor
Giffen Legal Prof. Corp.
Serving All Your Legal Needs

Liberal Government is Bringing Back 'Court Challenges' Program

The new Justice Minister has a directive in her mandate to bring  back the Court Challenges Program. The Canadian Bar Association wrote to the former Conservative government regarding their rationalization for the elimination of the program on the basis that it did not provide 'good value for money'. "With respect, this rationale fundamentally misconstrues the purpose and operation of the program.” 

“All of us have a gender, a first language, a race, a nationality, a sexual orientation, and certain physical and mental abilities, among other things. Striking down discriminatory laws alleviates the historical disadvantage experienced by vulnerable groups. A more egalitarian society benefits us all.”

Without the assistance of the Court Challenges Program, there is a real risk that these rights will simply become “rights on paper.” 

Claimants who have benefited from the program include the disabled, French-speaking minority groups, victims of sexual assault, aboriginal groups and homosexuals, the letter said. “Characterizing these groups as ‘third parties’ suggests an ‘us versus them’ mentality that has no place in Canadian society."


Read More at: <http://www.cba.org/Our-Work/abbr-title-Canadian-Bar-Association-CBA-abbr-Influ/Public-Policy-and-Advocacy/2016/February/challenges>

Small Community Sponsors Syrian Refugee Family

I am very proud to be part of this initiative of the Downeyville community to bring a Syrian Refugee family to live here in the City of Kawartha Lakes. We have set a target for fundraising of $27,000 and are almost at $20,000 as of today's date. If you are interested in assisting with this initiative with a monetary donation, your time, or donation of clothes, food or other necessary items  please feel free to contact my office. Also, if you are interested in sponsoring a family with a group in your own community please let me know and my office would be happy to help you with the legal needs for your refugee sponsorship. 


Federal Officials consider a new administrative scheme allowing police to obtain basic information about Internet subscribers without a warrant

"In June last year, the Supreme Court ruled police need judicial authorization to obtain subscriber data linked to online activities. The high court rejected the notion the federal privacy law governing companies allowed them to hand over subscriber identities voluntarily.

"The court judgment came amid swelling public concern about authorities quietly gaining access to customer information with little evident scrutiny or oversight.

"Telecommunications companies and other service providers — such as banks and rental companies — now demand court approval for nearly all types of requests from authorities for basic identifying information, the police chiefs say.

"...a discussion paper spearheaded by the Department of Justice was recently presented to the federal, provincial and territorial cybercrime working group of senior officials. It outlined three legislative options for allowing access to basic subscriber information:

— An administrative scheme that would not involve court approval; 

— A new judicial order process or a tweak to the existing regime;

— A judicial order process for subscriber information with a greater expectation of privacy, and an administrative, non-judicial one for less sensitive subscriber data. 

The chiefs say they will keep abreast of the efforts of the working group, which plans to meet next in November. At the same time, two of the chiefs' own committees will develop legislative proposals."


New Legal Advice App for Smartphones


A new smartphone app is available that provides legal advice to people who are stopped and questioned by the police randomly. The application also features a recording option so that the encounter can be videotaped for protection and sent to a remote server.

The advice comes by way of a series of brief questions and answers. After providing the same, it offers talking points and advice on what information you must provide. "If you are not being arrested or detained, then you are not required to show ID," the app states.

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said officers are under unprecedented scrutiny due to changing technology. The app is part of that change, he said. "I don't see it as provocative," Pugash said. "As long as the public doesn't interfere in a police officer trying to do his or her job, if they're recording it, they're entitled to do that."

Alvin Curling, the only black person to serve as Speaker of the Ontario legislature, said in a statement that legal-rights education is "essential to a working democracy."

Protection of Individual Equality Paramount, says the Ontario Divisional Court


The Ontario Divisional Court has upheld the LSUC's decision not to accredit Trinity Western University's Law School. The protection of individual equality was held to be paramount in this three judge panel ruling. The Ontario Law Society has a duty to ensure that there are no barriers to law school admittance for every qualified candidate.

“Simply put, in balancing the interests of the applicants [TWU] to freedom of religion and of the respondent’s [LSUC's] members and future members to equal opportunity, in the course of the exercise of its statutory authority, the respondent [Ontario Law Society] arrived at a reasonable conclusion,” reads the decision.

The ruling comes months after a Nova Scotia judge found that the Nova Scotia Barristers Society could not deny accreditation to Trinity Western, and ordered that it pay the university’s costs. The society said it intends to appeal.

At issue is Trinity Western University's "Community Covenant Agreement", which asks students to agree to abstain from sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage.

The Ontario court decision said that if lesbian, gay or queer students want to attend the law school, they would have to “essentially bury a crucial component of their very identity, by forsaking any form of intimacy with those persons with whom they would wish to form a relationship.”

LGBTQ students were not the only ones who would face discrimination as a result of the Covenant, the court found.

The “discrimination inherent in the Community Covenant extends not only to those persons, but also to women generally; to those persons of any gender who might prefer ... to live in a common law relationship rather than engage in the institution of marriage; and to those persons who have other religious beliefs,” the court decision stated.

If students contravene the agreement, the school can expel them. Critics have argued the provision infringes anti-discrimination provisions of the Charter and disqualifies it from teaching constitutional law.

In Thursday’s decision, the three judges found that benchers at the Law Society were well aware their vote could limit religious freedom. In voting against accreditation, benchers wrestled with how to balance that infringement with their duty to ensure that there are no barriers to law school admittance for every qualified candidate.