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When You Can't Manage Your Affairs...Who Will?

Errata - Enduring Powers of Attorney Act

On July 1, 2020, New Brunswick’s Enduring Powers of Attorney Act (The Act), came into force. This new Act replaced all matters that were previously dealt with under the Property Act, Infirm Persons Act, and Advance Health Care Directives Act in respect to powers of attorney. This Act combines all the former legislation into a single statute.

The new Act adds significant detail to the requirements and structure for enduring powers of attorney in New Brunswick.  If properly executed, an Advanced Health Care Directive or Power of Attorney created under the old legislation will remain valid if it is in accordance with the new Act.

The Act has replaced the term “donor” with “grantor” and “donee” with “attorney”. The person who creates a power of attorney is the grantor, and the person who receives power under a power of attorney is an “attorney” for the purposes of this legislation.

In replacing the Advanced Health Care Directives Act, the term “proxy” has also been replaced with the term “attorney”. The above noted changes affect the following publications produced by Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick:

-          Powers of Attorney booklet,

-          Advanced Health Care Directives booklet,

-          Mental Competence booklet,

-          When You Can’t Manage Your Affairs… Who Will? booklet,

-          Patient’s Rights booklet, and

-          Protect Yourself from Abuse and Fraud: A Guide for Seniors

This erratum is used to inform anyone using the publications above about the new, all-encompassing, Act and the elimination of the Advanced Health Care Directives Act. Over the coming months, PLEIS-NB is working to revise all affected publications, which are expected to be forthcoming in the fall of 2021. For more information, contact PLEIS-NB at

Planning for the Future

What should people consider when planning for their future care and well being?

It is never too soon to make plans for your personal and financial well-being over the years. Some of the plans you make for your future well-being might rely on the support of family, friends and community agencies. Others might involve consulting with professionals who can help you plan on how best to invest your money, pre-plan your funeral, or take legal actions such as creating a will, a power of attorney, and/or an advance health care directive.

It is important to note that you must make many of these plans while you are mentally competent to do so. If you do not plan ahead and you lose your ability to make decisions, your loved ones or others, may have to apply to the court to get the legal authority to become your legal guardian and make decisions on your behalf. (See the PLEIS-NB publication Mental Competence). The bottom line is that everyone should think about what might happen if they lose their ability to make decisions and control their lives.

This guide offers some tips on both the informal and formal options that you might wish to consider when planning ahead.

Informal Options: The Role of Family, Friends and Community

You may want to consider the role that family, friends and community can play in helping to support you if you need help managing your affairs. This is especially important as people age and may require more assistance with everyday tasks. Some elderly people are able to live and function in the community with a network of support for their care and financial well-being.

This support is often “informal” because it does not require “legal” solutions. It may simply involve living with caregivers, such as friends or family. The person needing care may allow the caregivers to assist with or make many decisions on his or her behalf. Such arrangements may be successful for several years. If people who are elderly or unable to care for themselves or mentally disabled receive the care they need, there may be no reason to change the situation.

Those who need support in their daily lives may also take advantage of private and government services and programs available to help the elderly and others who need assistance. These services include:

  • adult day centres
  • attendant care
  • meals on wheels
  • in-home services
  • extra-mural program
  • housekeeper services
  • nursing homes or special care homes

Can these solutions last forever?

They can; however, at some point these solutions may start to break down. This may happen when:

  • a caregiver dies;
  • a caregiver is no longer able to make decisions for you;
  • a caregiver does not have the financial means to care for an elderly or mentally disabled person;
  • a caregiver becomes physically or mentally unable to care for an elderly or mental disabled person;
  • an elderly or mentally disabled person inherits money or property;
  • an elderly or mentally disabled person becomes too hard for caregivers to handle;
  • an elderly or mentally disabled person is in need of constant supervision.

Before the informal network of support starts to break down, consider ways to plan ahead.

Formal Options for Planning Ahead

There are several mechanisms which competent adults can use to plan ahead for their personal care and financial matters. They can also make plans for their health care in advance. When possible, it is a good idea to explore all your options and to consult the appropriate professional, financial and legal advisors. Consider the following:

1. Powers of Attorney (See the PLEIS-NB publication Powers of Attorney)

Financial/Property Matters: You can create a power of attorney that gives a person or persons you trust the authority to handle your financial and property matters. When using this as a tool for planning ahead, it’s important to create an “enduring” or “durable” power of attorney. That means it includes a clause that allows the power of attorney to continue in the event that you become mentally incompetent. Without an enduring clause, if you were to become incompetent the document would no longer be legally valid and the person who had the power could no longer act on your behalf.

Personal Care: You can also create a power of attorney for personal care that gives a person you trust the authority to make your personal decisions when you are unable to do so. When you create a power of attorney for personal care decisions, it is automatically considered “enduring”. You should consult a lawyer to be sure you understand all of the legal requirements for creating a valid document.

Some points to note about powers of attorney:

  • You can have two separate powers of attorney to deal with financial/ property matters and personal care decisions.
  • Or, you can have a single power of attorney that deals with both financial and personal care matters.
  • You can have the same person or persons act on your behalf for financial and personal matters.
  • If you prefer, you can choose different persons for each power.
  • You can choose as many people as you want to act on your behalf.
  • The person you select to act on your behalf is called the “donee” or “attorney”.
  • You can have your donees act together or as “alternates”.
  • Choose one or more alternates in the event your chosen donee can no longer act on your behalf, for various reasons.
  • You may be able to appoint the Public Trustee as an alternate.

Public Trustee Services: If you don’t have anyone available or willing to act on your behalf, such as a family member(s), you may be able to appoint the Public Trustee to act in that capacity (i.e., as your attorney/donee, executor, and/or proxy). You should contact the Public Trustee beforehand to discuss whether the Public Trustee is an appropriate choice. The Public Trustee needs to give written consent before being named as an attorney or donee under the terms of a power of attorney, or a proxy in an advance health care directive. (For more information on how to proceed, go to

2. Advance Health Care Directives (See the PLEIS-NB publication Advance Health Care Directives)

As of December 2016, New Brunswick introduced a law that lets people create a legal tool called an “Advance Health Care Directive”. They can set out their wishes and instructions for health care at time when they may be unable to do so. The “maker” of the directive can:

  • Provide a general statement about their values, beliefs and wishes;

  • State their wishes for future health care;

  • Name a person or persons (called the proxy) to make health care decisions on their behalf when they are no longer able; and,

  • Identify persons to be notified when the directive comes into effect.

3. Shared ownership

People can share ownership in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate and motor vehicles. This allows another person to use these items on their behalf. For example a joint bank account is an account owned by more than one person. An elderly person may set up a joint bank account with a trusted family member who can use the money in the account to pay for the person’s expenses if he or she becomes ill, infirm or mentally incompetent. Before you set up joint ownership, talk to your lawyer about how it might affect your will.

4. Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person gives money or property to another person to hold for someone else known as a beneficiary. People can even create trusts where they name themselves as the beneficiary. By doing this a person can use a trust to plan for the possibility of becoming incompetent. A competent person can set up a trust and choose someone to oversee it. The person overseeing it would be able to make financial decisions about the property even when the other person becomes mentally incompetent. For example an elderly person may create a trust and give a relative or friend the power to make decisions about his or her finances when the elderly person is no longer able to do so.

5. Life tenancies

A life tenancy is an interest in real estate that lasts for a person’s life. People can create life tenancies with anyone they trust. People can transfer (give or sell) their property on the condition that they be allowed to live there as long as they want. In a life tenancy a person can specify who has to take care of the property and pay the bills. This is helpful for anyone with concerns about mental incompetency. For example, an elderly person who wants to live at home but cannot take care of it may be able to set up a life tenancy. He or she can continue to live at home while the person given the house could be responsible for its maintenance. A lawyer can tell you more about this.

6 . Wills

A will is a legal document which names the people or organizations a person wishes to give property to after he or she dies. To create a will, generally a person must be mentally competent and at least nineteen. It is too late to make one after you become mentally incompetent. If you are concerned about incompetency and would like to make a will, see a lawyer as soon as possible. Tell your lawyer about your concerns. The lawyer may be able to show that you are competent enough to make a will. As a last resort, if you have no family or friends to name as your executor, then the Public Trustee can act as executor under a will.

By making a will, people can distribute their property to their beneficiaries as they see fit. You may even make arrangements in your will for the care of dependent adult children. If a person dies without a will in New Brunswick the Devolution of Estates Act says how the estate is to be distributed. The Act tries to distribute property as most people would choose to do but this may not be as the person would have wished. (See the PLEIS-NB pamphlet Dying Without A Will.)

7. Pre-arranged Funeral Service Plans

You can contract with a licensed funeral home to provide you with a plan for funeral services after you die. Be sure that you get a copy of the signed standard form of pre-arranged funeral plan. It is possible to purchase insurance to help cover the costs of your funeral. It is important to understand the difference. This does not mean your funeral is pre-planned. Without making arrangements at the funeral home you haven’t bought a funeral service, you have only purchased insurance to help cover the costs. You may have peace of mind knowing your family will not have to deal with these decisions at the time of your death.

What are the advantages of planning ahead?

Planning ahead can give you peace of mind. It may be reassuring to know that if you are unable to make decisions, the people you most trust will handle your financial matters and making personal care decisions in your best interest. Family members may find it less stressful too knowing that they are following your wishes, rather than trying to figure out what you would have wanted. (See the PLEIS-NB booklet Mental Competence.)

The key advantages of planning ahead include:

  • choosing a decision-maker you trust;
  • designing documents to meet specific needs;
  • avoiding the cost of going to court;
  • saving a person’s family from undue emotional hardship;
  • knowing that you or a person in your care will continue to receive the proper care.

Enduring powers of attorney may give people the comfort of knowing their affairs will be handled by someone they trust if anything happens to them.

What happens when somebody has not planned ahead?

When somebody has not planned ahead and they become unable to handle their financial matters or make personal decisions, it may be necessary for a family member, friend or even the Public Trustee, to take legal action to act on that persons behalf.

The disadvantages of not planning ahead include:

  • Taking legal action in the courts is often emotionally difficult and time consuming.
  • Asking the court to appoint someone to handle your affairs is expensive.
  • Being required to have a mental competency assessment can cause confusion, embarrassment and negative stereotypes for the person being assessed.
  • Having someone challenge your mental competency, may also feel as though they are challenging your independence and dignity.

Planning ahead can help avoid unnecessary hardships.



Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) is a non-profit charitable organization. Its goal is to provide the public with information about the law. PLEIS-NB receives funding and in-kind support from the federal Department of Justice, the New Brunswick Law Foundation and the Office of the Attorney General of New Brunswick.

We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of members of the Law Society of New Brunswick; the Office of the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner; and the Public Trustee.

This booklet does not contain a complete statement of the laws in the area of planning for the future. Anyone who needs specific advice about his/her own legal position should contact a lawyer.

Published by:
Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000 Fredericton,
NB, E3B 5H1

Tel: (506) 453-5369
Fax: (506) 462-5193

revised March 2018
ISBN 978-1-55471-437-7

revised March 2018


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Disclaimer: Please note that our website contains general information about the law. This is not a complete statement of the law on particular topics. We try to update our publications often, but laws change frequently so it is important for you to check to make sure the information is up to date.  The information in our publications is not a substitute for legal advice. To receive legal advice about your specific situation, you need to speak to a lawyer.