LNZ Legal Firm LLP — Lawyer-Paralegal Law Firm


Power of Attorney for Ontario

Many clients ask us to “notarize” their Power of Attorney document which is to be used in Ontario, because they believe doing so “legalizes” or “validates” their document. Typically, this is the Power of Attorney for Property (“POAP”). Under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, S.O. 1992, c. 3090, c. S.26, there is NO REQUIREMENT for Ontario Power of Attorney documents to be notarized. Rather, these documents are statutorily required to be signed in front of two witnesses pursuant to section 10 of the Act and with limitations on who can witness outlined in subsection 10(2). A notary public can be one witness, but this is NOT REQUIRED, nor does this indicate that the POAP was drafted by a lawyer who assessed the grantor’s mental capacity and understanding of the document. Indeed, often when third parties scrutinize POAP documents, they are concerned with whether the grantor was mentally competent at the time to execute such a document, or if they understood the implications of the document they were signing. Third-party institutions often specifically question if the document was drafted by a lawyer. Although it is possible that they may question whether a POAP was forged, in which case a notary public’s signature could evidence otherwise, the other concern of mental acuity remains unaddressed. As such, we strongly encourage you to simply have this POAP drafted and executed by an Ontario lawyer. 

Other notary businesses will “notarize” these documents for you, without explaining the limitations of their actions. We believe this provides a misleading sense of assurance to clients that their POAP document will be unfailingly accepted by third-party institutions. 

The above is to be distinguished from Power of Attorney documents to be used in foreign countries which need to be notarized for the purpose of evidencing their authenticity, as the grantor is in Canada.