Does a Power of Attorney Need to Be Notarized? Why and What is the Process?

A power of attorney (“POA”) is a legal document in which you give one or more persons the authority to make decisions on your behalf should anything should happen to you and are no longer able to look after matters on your own (see also: What are the Different Types of Powers of Attorney in Ontario?).

In Ontario, you must have the legal capacity to give the POA and it must be properly completed, signed and witnessed to be valid (see also: Who Can and Cannot Witness a Will or Power of Attorney in Ontario?). There are no further steps that need to be taken in order for the POA to be legally binding. It is not necessary to have a lawyer review the documents; however, it may be conducive to ensure that they are reviewed and executed properly.

It should be noted that different jurisdictions have different signing requirements for POAs, which may depend on what powers are given to the attorney. Should you move or be out of the province for a prolonged term, you should check with a lawyer to review your documents to see if they are valid or need to be amended.

While not required under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, a person being asked to recognize a Power of Attorney may require a notarized copy of, or the opportunity to see the original Power of Attorney, before dealing with an attorney in place of the grantor. This requirement provides additional assurance that the attorney has authority. Requiring the attorney to produce the original for inspection or provide a notarized copy helps establish that the original document is still in existence and is in the attorney’s possession. As well, if a notarized copy is produced, it reduces the risk of potential fraud as the notary is required to compare the original Power of Attorney to the copy prior to notarizing the copy.

Up until very recently, POAs were required to be signed and witnessed in-person. As of April 2020, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General is now permitting lawyers and notaries to virtually witness the physical signing of POAs.

Notary Pro offers free Continuing Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney for Personal Care templates in Microsoft Word, via e-mail. We are not a law firm. We are simply inserting your name and information into the Ontario Government POA forms. You may also consider having a lawyer draft POA that specifically that fit your circumstances and needs — especially if they are complicated. Once prepared, you can book an appointment online to sign the POA using our virtual witnessing service. For more information, please refer to the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General: Powers of Attorney Q&A and/or consult a lawyer.

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