MPP John O'Toole is once again pushing a Private Members Bill which aims to overhaul the Power of Attorney system in Ontario. The Bill, entitled The Protection of Vulnerable and Elderly People from Abuse Act (Powers of Attorney), 2010 proposes a registry for Attorneys, annual accounting to the Public Guardian and Trustee ("PGT"), as well as a requirement that someone other than a family member be one of the two witnesses to the granting of a Power of Attorney.
The Bill, if passes, would amend the Substitute Decisions Act to provide:
- that only one of the witnesses to a Power of Attorney may be a relative of the grantor;
- an attorney under a continuing power of attorney shall provide an annual accounting of the following information to the PGT:
1. The grantor's assets
2. The grantor's liabilities
3. The compensation taken by the attorney
4. All other prescribed information
- The PGT shall establish and maintain a register containing the information received from the attorneys; and
- The PGT shall disclose the information contained in the register with respect to a power of attorney to any of the following persons who request the information, if the person identifies the grantor by name and pays the prescribed fee:
1. The grantor's spouse or partner
2. The grantor's children who are at least 18 years old
3. The grantor's parents
4. The grantor's brothers and sisters who are at least 18 years old
While changes to the Power of Attorney system are needed, these proposed changes represent a radical overhaul to the current system and are unlikely to pass. Although the writer agrees that the system does not do enough to protect grantors from abuse, there are a number of less drastic steps that should be considered before we move to annual accounting requirements and a formal registry.
The disclosure provisions are also a major cause for concern. Many grantors would not want their relatives to have access to such information, and in many cases, providing such information to the listed family members would not be in the best interests of the grantor.
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