Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Enduring or Continuing Power of Attorney Definition:

A power of attorney that continues even if and after a donor becomes incapacitated.

Related Terms: Springing Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney

A power of attorney that endures or continues notwithstanding the subsequent incapability of the donor to manage his or her affairs.

Often distinguished from a springing power of attorney which "springs to life", becomes legally effective on the occurrence of an event (usually, and which may include, incapacity).

The enduring power of attorney is also sometimes referred to as a continuing power of attorney.

At common law, a power of attorney automatically expires upon the donor’s incapacity to manage their affairs. This acts as a precaution since an incapable donor can no longer revoke a power of attorney. As Justice John Hall wrote in Egli cited below: "At common law, a power of attorney ceased to be valid when the principal became incapacitated by mental infirmity".

This little common law rule often defeated the whole purpose of a person's power of attorney, rendering it null and void at the very moment that it was most needed.

Thus, where the laws of a particular jurisdiction allows it (and many do not), a power of attorney can be stated to continue or endure even in the event of the donor’s subsequent incapacity (this is called a continuing or enduring power of attorney).

In Parnall v BC, Madam Justice Wedge relied on these words in reference to an "enduring power of attorney":

"An attorney appointed under such an arrangement may continue to act on behalf of the principal, even where the principal has become legally incompetent. The enduring power of attorney permits an individual to plan ahead and have machinery in place for dealing with his affairs when he is no longer able to do so himself."

As stated in Egli v. Egli:, Mr. Justice Hall for the Court of Appeal of British Columbia, at ¶29:

“By a power of attorney, one individual appoints another to act for him or her.  At common law, a power of attorney ceased to be valid when the principal became incapacitated by mental infirmity.  Hence, the perceived need for legislative intervention in recent times to provide for enduring powers of attorney that would continue to be effective despite mental infirmity of the donor.”

The laws of the donor’s jurisdiction should be consulted carefully to ensure that there is legislation enabling continuing/enduring powers of attorney.

British Columbia's Power of Attorney Act (as of 2011), at §10, reflects the common law rule but also provides:

Enduring power of attorney means a power of attorney in which an adult authorizes an attorney to make decisions on behalf of the adult, or do certain things in relation to the adult's financial affairs, and that continues to have effect while, or comes into effect when, the adult is incapable.”

In Egli v. Egli (op. cit.), the Court reproduced the wording of this enduring power of attorney:

“THIS GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY is given on August 6, 1998 by HANS EGLI, retired, of (address here), British Columbia (postal code here).

I appoint the following person:

DAVID HANS EGLI, businessman, of (address here with postal code), to be my attorney in accordance with the Power of Attorney Act and to do on my behalf anything that I can lawfully do by an attorney.

In accordance with the Power of Attorney Act I declare that this power of attorney may be exercised during any subsequent mental infirmity on my part.

AND HEREBY DECLARE that the effect of Section 56 of the Land Title Act is expressly excluded to the intent that this power of attorney shall remain valid after three years after the date of its execution.

AND HEREBY DECLARE that pursuant to Section 27 of the Property Law Act my attorney is expressly authorized to use this power of attorney to sell, transfer or charge to or in favour of himself any land or interest therein owned by me.”

French: procuration durable.1


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