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Do you have a continuing power of attorney for property in place to handle your pension and financial matters if you become incapacitated? It's an important decision; one that you may want to think about now in the event that you are no longer able to deal with your financial affairs in the future.
When you appoint an attorney, you are granting someone the power to handle your financial matters including your OPTrust pension. OPTrust needs an original or notarized copy of your power of attorney for property to take direction from the person you appoint as your attorney. (All original power of attorney papers will be returned to the owner).
An attorney can:
- update your bank account
- request additional taxes to be withheld from your pension
- change your mailing address or redirect OPTrust materials (e.g. Pension Connection,
T4A slips, Pensioner Information Change Statement) to be sent to a third-party (e.g.
an adult child)
- make most any other pension-related transactions.
An attorney cannot:
- change your life insurance designations, nor can he or she designate beneficiaries
under the OPSEU Pension Plan.
If there is no power of attorney in place and you are physically and/or mentally unable to make pension-related decisions, your family may be required to seek legal advice from the proper authorities and make the necessary arrangements. OPTrust cannot accept changes without the proper authority, i.e. power of attorney or court order.
Questions and Answers
What is a continuing power of attorney for property?
A continuing power of attorney for property is a legal document you sign when you want to give someone you trust the authority to act on your behalf for matters related to your property. When you sign a power of attorney, you are known as the "grantor." The person you appoint is known as the "attorney." As the name suggests, a "power of attorney" grants the attorney the power to handle the legal affairs of the grantor. Pension benefits are considered "property," and may be handled by your attorney.
There are two types of power of attorney. A continuing power of attorney for property handles financial matters such as your OPTrust pension. A power of attorney for personal care makes decisions related to your medical and other care.
How does it work?
By signing a continuing power of attorney for property, you are giving permission through a legal document to have someone handle your financial affairs in the event you are no longer capable of doing so. A continuing power of attorney for property authorizes an attorney to handle your financial and pension-related matters on your behalf.
What is the power of attorney used for at OPTrust?
If a power of attorney is in effect, OPTrust needs an original or notarized copy of the document before we can take directions from your attorney. The person appointed
under the power of attorney can make address and banking information changes on your behalf. The person you appoint can make most any other pension-related transactions, too.
What happens if I do not have a power of attorney on file with OPTrust?
If you have not made a valid power
of attorney for property and you become
incapable of managing your property, another
person – most likely a family member or friend
– will need to seek legal advice and consult the
proper authorities to make financial decisions
for you, including decisions about your
pension. It may be necessary for them to seek
a court appointment as your court appointed
guardian of property.
If you are incapable of managing your property,
OPTrust cannot accept changes to your
pension information or other pension-related
decisions without the proper authority, i.e.
power of attorney for property or statutory/
court appointed guardian of property.
You can assist us by signing a power of attorney
before incapacity occurs and provide OPTrust
with an original or notarized copy of the power of attorney document.
What is the difference between the estate trustee of a will and a power of attorney designation?
A power of attorney authorizes
the person you appoint to manage your
financial affairs on your behalf while
you are alive. Your will names an estate
trustee to manage them after you die.
You may appoint a relative, friend or
professional as your attorney or estate
trustee. A power of attorney for property
is only in effect while you are alive. A
regular will, on the other hand, takes
effect only after you have died.
Do I need to authorize
any change to my mailing address or banking information?
If you want to redirect your
pension material to another address
(e.g. to a daughter's address, so there is
assistance available in reading and
understanding material), you can do so
by sending OPTrust a written change of
address notice. The person you appoint
as your attorney could also make this
change. Then everything we send will
go to the new address. We cannot have
two addresses on file.
Any bank change would require either
your signature or the person you appoint as your power of attorney.
Who should I appoint?
You are not required to appoint
an attorney for property. This is your
choice. If you decide to appoint an
attorney for property, you can grant
power of attorney to anyone who is at
least 18 years of age and mentally
competent. The person you appoint
does not have to be a lawyer; he or she
can be a spouse or an adult child –
anyone you would trust to handle your
financial affairs. You should carefully
consider who to appoint.
When can I terminate a power of attorney?
Your power of attorney is
terminated when you die or revoke
the power of attorney, a new power
of attorney is submitted, the (sole)
attorney dies or becomes incapable to
manage property or resigns, or the court
appoints a guardian over your property.
An attorney is permitted to resign, but
must provide notice of resignation.
What if I want to appoint a new power of attorney?
If you appoint another power
of attorney for property, you must
provide OPTrust with the original or
notarized copy of the original power of
attorney document. This will replace
your previous appointment.
Will my attorney have access to my secure Online Services account?
No. Once OPTrust is notified of a power of attorney to manage your
financial affairs, your Online Services account is suspended. We will advise your
representative that all requests must be made to OPTrust, in writing.
Can a notarized copy of the document be scanned and sent attached to an e-mail or by fax? Or, do you need to see an original document, in this case, too?
No. You are required to send in or deliver the original or notarized copy of the original power of attorney document.
Does Great-West Life need to be provided with a copy of my power of attorney, or will OPTrust provide it to them, on my behalf?
OPTrust can provide a copy to Great-West Life if it is requested by the insurance carrier.
Should I speak to a lawyer?
You may wish to consult with a lawyer to discuss whether a power
of attorney is appropriate for you. A lawyer can advise you on drawing up
specific conditions and limitations when granting the power of attorney,
advise you as to what type and form of power of attorney is appropriate in
your circumstances and may also raise issues you have not considered.
OPTrust cannot provide you with legal advice. This information is provided
for information purposes only and should not be considered to be legal advice.
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For more information
Ontario's Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee provides a free Power of Attorney Kit available from the Ministry of the Attorney General website at www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca or by contacting the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee at 1-800-366-0335, or 416 314-2800. Alternatively, you can contact OPTrust through your secure Online Services account or by secure e-mail.