Law Society of Upper Canada Guidelines on Powers of Attorney in Real Estate Transactions

Working with the Working Group on Lawyers and Real Estate, the Law Society of Upper Canada has prepared guidelines to help lawyers avoid becoming the tool or dupe of unscrupulous persons when dealing with real estate transactions involving powers of attorney. These guidelines are available here.

With the prevalence of real estate fraud, it is important that real estate lawyers implement practices and procedures in their firms to recognize and fight fraud. In recent years, powers of attorney have been used in real estate transactions to perpetrate fraud. Forged powers of attorney have been used to fraudulently mortgage properties or transfer title out of the true registered owner’s name. An example of such a situation is contained in the recent case of Reviczky v. Meleknia, 2007 CanLII 56494 (ON S.C.).

See this LAWPRO Magazine article for more info on Powers of attorney and solicitors’ liability

And don’t for a moment think fraud is just an issue for real estate lawyers! As I detailed in a previous SLAW post, litigators are being targeted on debt collection frauds and business lawyers are being targeted on business loan frauds. Read that post so you can recognize the red flags of a fraudulent cheque transaction.

For more info on avoiding being a victim of fraud on a real estate transaction see practicePRO’s Fraud Prevention page (www.practicepro.ca/fraud)

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Comments

  1. Dan,

    Your points are well made.

    One thing that a number of real estate lawyers have expressed frustration about is that the Ontario Government continues to advise people that they “need” a power of attorney just in case they become incapacitated. And, that the government posts POAs on its website for quick download.

    If we are to combat frauds involving POAs then the government shouldn’t be advising of the need for a POA and it most certainly shouldn’t be handing them out willy-nilly.

    If POA’s were required to be prepared by a lawyer (like deeds) we could at least call up the lawyer who prepared the POA to verify that it was valid.

    As it stands now, lawyers can’t do much beyond ensuring that the POA was properly witnessed.