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BMO Bank of Montreal

February 23, 2012 08:00 ET

BMO Retirement Tips of the Day: Make the Right Decisions Around Joint Accounts and Ownership & Consider Setting Up a Power of Attorney

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 23, 2012) - As the February 29th deadline approaches to make a contribution to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) and as part of its ongoing commitment to improving financial literacy, BMO Financial Group will be providing daily retirement tips during the month of February from BMO Retirement Institute Head Tina Di Vito's new book 52 Ways To Wreck Your Retirement…And How To Rescue It.

Tip Number 45:

Make the Right Decisions around Joint Accounts and Ownership

Many people own property and investments jointly with another person as a way to give the other person the ability to access the money during their lifetime. It is important to understand the implications and risks of such arrangements, particularly if you make an account joint with an adult child.

  • If you will be making or have made an account joint with an adult child, clearly document whether your intention is to gift the amount to the child.
  • If you are considering adding a child as a joint owner on your home, it is best to seek legal advice to determine if this is the best course of action.
  • Consider using a power of attorney for property (or a mandate in Quebec) to give a child authority to act on your behalf without transferring legal or beneficial title.

Tip Number 46:

Consider Setting Up a Power of Attorney

Family members are not automatically authorized to act on your behalf if the need arises. You might presume that a spouse or common-law partner can automatically step in and take care of all of your financial or medical affairs but this is not always true. It is best to prepare a document in advance - a power of attorney - to give appropriate authority to your spouse, or to another person who has the acumen to act on your behalf.

  • Review your personal net worth statement and decide who you would like to name as your attorney to manage your financial affairs.
  • Have a discussion with your spouse, common-law partner or others about your personal care wishes, and decide who you would like to name as your attorney to carry out those wishes.
  • Talk to your chosen attorney or attorneys about your desire to name them on these documents to ensure they are comfortable acting on your behalf in this capacity.
  • Prepare both a continuing/enduring power of attorney for property and a power of attorney for personal care. It is best to obtain legal advice and assistance when preparing these legal documents.

For more information on retirement: www.bmo.com/retirement.

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