Understanding how a trusted contact person (TCP) and a power of attorney (POA) differ can be tricky. Many people find it difficult to identify where the powers of their TCP end and those of their POA begin. Let’s break down the responsibilities of each role.
Overview of a trusted contact person (TCP)
A trusted contact person (TCP) is someone who can help us, help you. A TCP serves as a point of contact if your advisor notices signs of potential financial exploitation or signs of diminishing health that impact your ability to make financial decisions. With this in mind, your TCP should be someone close to you who knows your routines and has your best interests at heart. To be clear, your TCP is essentially a point of contact, and isn’t authorized to transact, trade, or otherwise make changes to your accounts.
Here’s the type of information that may be discussed with your TCP
- Your mental or physical health status
- Contact information
- Suspicious account activities or other signs of financial exploitation
- The identity of your executor, trustee, or power of attorney
Overview of a power of attorney (POA)
A POA is a legal document that allows one or more individuals (known as an “attorney”) to operate fully on your behalf within the constraints of the POA agreement and provincial laws. That’s the key difference—unlike a TCP, an attorney under a POA is authorized to conduct transactions and make decisions on your behalf. If you are incapable of managing property and your POA is an enduring or continuing POA, your attorney can step in to manage your financial affairs as you would. If should you pass away, however, the POA ceases to be effective upon your death.
Does an “attorney” have to be a lawyer?
Please don’t let the term “attorney” confuse you here. While you certainly can appoint your lawyer as a POA, an attorney in this case is more like a personal agent acting on your behalf. Often people will appoint a POA who is close to them, like a family member or friend. Depending on your situation you may also choose to appoint a trust company—like CIBC Trust as a POA for property, for example—perhaps jointly with a family member or close friend.
While different, both TCP and POA roles are important tools that can help protect your financial interests. As always, if you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact us.