Alex Procope spoke at the 21st Annual Estates and Trusts Summit (day 2) on October 11, 2018 on the ethical considerations for lawyers advising on the use of a power of attorney. This program presented annually by the Law Society of Ontario focused on topics including:
- Will interpretation
- Estate planning for the disabled and complex families
- Addressing discrimination and harassment
- Professional responsibilities when dealing with an attorney using a POA
Ontario Lawyers that draft powers of attorney should carefully consider their ethical obligations in the Rules of Professional Conduct before agreeing to switch clients to act for the attorney. Duties to former clients might engage professional obligations to maintain confidentiality, and for candour, loyalty and commitment to a client’s cause. These rules can create conflicts of interest in acting for the attorney for property or attorney for personal care. If capacity is in dispute or reasonably questionable, drafting lawyers should also consider whether they are witnesses and not able to act as an advocate for any of the parties.
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