Power of Attorney for Autistic Family Member?

in Autism, Registered Disability Savings Plan

When your child on the Autism Spectrum turns 18, what do you do to help them with their financial decisions? Many folks on the spectrum can deal with money and will have no issues with money. For others, there will be a need to have safeguards put in place to protect them. These safeguards will help them with their money (and financial decisions).  I assumed that (if need be) for my son, I would set up a Power of Attorney for an Autistic loved one, which would help protect my son. I learned, however, from another parent who has a son that is older than 18, this is not the case.

Since Autism is a mental incapacity, a Power of Attorney for Autistic adults cannot be used in most cases. The simple explanation I can give is that due to the mental handicap, the person cannot delegate their decisions using a power of attorney because they do not understand (i.e. competency) what they are delegating or what they are signing. When my friend told me this, I had one of those “Oh crap!” moments.

In these situations, what needs to happen is setting up a parent as the Statutory guardian for the child (or family member). The process is very daunting, where a lawyer is needed to file documents with the courts. A standard power of attorney is a simple kit available online. I am sure some folks feel they are competent enough to do this on their own. From what I can decipher (so far) of the documentation, I will need a lawyer.

I will (most likely) be setting this up for my son. Luckily this only needs to be in place by the time he turns 18 (I think). My friend has promised to give me a further tutorial on what he has gone through (and it does not sound like a cheap process either). I make the not cheap comment due to the statement in the Statutory Guardian documentation:

The Public Guardian and Trustee charges a fee of $382.00 plus HST of $49.66 for processing an application for statutory guardianship, under the authority of s.8 of the Public Guardian and Trustee Act.

This article is a “heads up” for those parents out there who might have had the same assumptions I had about Power of Attorney. I will be writing more about this topic as I learn about it. I suspect I might even bend the ear of a few of my Financial Blogging associates.

If you have set up an RDSP for your loved one, this guardianship is very important. Guardianship is an important topic to keep in mind. How will your loved one cope as an Adult financially?

Relevant sites:

  • Guardian of Propertywebsite from the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario.
  • Becoming a Guardian another Government of Ontario Website. Remember the ODSP may come into play here too.
  • www.e-laws.gov.on.ca  All the laws for the Province of Ontario.
  • www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca. This is the website for the Ministry of the Attorney General. It includes bulletins and background about power of attorney, guardianship, the Public Guardian and Trustee and related matters. It also includes copies of the various forms needed to file an application to replace this office.

{ 1 comment }

  • bigcajunman June 28, 2016, 9:57 AM

    If there are professionals that wish to weigh in on this (and any inaccuracies you might see here), please feel free, I am only in a learning phase right now.


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