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Investor Education I’m not sure my elderly mother can handle her finances. What should I do?

Dear Nancy Woods

I have a question with regards to a capacity assessment. I have power of attorney for property for my elderly mother. She is showing signs of confusion, and I don’t think she can handle her finances. Do I need to get a capacity assessment for her?


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Dear Maurice,

You will have to check the terms and conditions of the power of attorney. It may say specifically that it can only be used when she doesn’t have capacity. Even if it doesn’t, there are other parties that may question your use of the power of attorney.

I would suggest that you have some assessment done so there is a defined time that a qualified professional can state that there was good reason for you to use the power of attorney. That would help protect you. I would further suggest that you get legal advice as to what your legal obligations are under the power of attorney.

It is also a good idea to review the will. If there is a specific bequest, such as a piece of jewelry left to a grandchild, it is important that you know that specific item should not be disposed of in any way. There are also accounting and reporting obligations that would be required for you to have accessible to other interested parties.



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Nancy Woods is a Vice President, Portfolio Manager and Investment Adviser with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Visit her blog, “Nancy’s Notes” at or send her your question to

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