Powers of Attorney – What Farm Families Should Know

Key Takeaways:

  • Have a designated POA that is competent in farm operations
  • Consider conflicts of interest and your succession plan when choosing a POA
  • Revisit your POA if there is a significant life event/purchase or every 5 years
  • Multiple POAs may be useful under the right circumstances
  • Consider separate POAs for personal care and financial matters

In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of Powers of Attorney (POA) highlighted in a CBC podcast episode of “White Coat Black Art,” hosted by Dr. Brian Goldman. The episode featured Dr. Mary Jarratt, who shared her personal experience as a POA for her brother, emphasizing the need for greater awareness and resources for Canadians regarding POA. We underscored the importance of having these documents as part of a comprehensive risk and wealth management strategy, discussing POA in relation to disability insurance and wills to life insurance.

This discussion is particularly relevant to the farming community, where typical family dynamics are compounded by the complexities of also managing farm operations. To address these specific needs, we consulted Jon Barnett, a lawyer with McKenzie Lake who has extensive experience in farm succession planning and Agribusiness. Barnett provided insights into three key questions:

Q1. Jon from your experiences what are some important things farms should consider when appointing a Power of Attorney?

The primary step is to HAVE a Power of Attorney.  It is one of those things that people seem to put off along with their will.  When choosing someone make sure they are competent in handling farm operations. Certain farms have specific needs, like dealing with relevant boards (ex. quota board); the attorney that you choose should understand the uniqueness of your farm operations. Also, they must have familiarity with the ongoing daily needs of farms such as financing or livestock sales. Farm life needs to continue and having the right person appointed can create a smoother transition for everyone. 

When picking that person, it is a good time to consider any conflicts of interest within your succession plan.  Appointing a family member with differing interests from other beneficiaries of your estate could lead to problems down the road.  It is helpful to make sure the person you are appointing is up for the task and understands their role as your POA.

Q2. How often do you see farm families revisit their wills and POAs?

First, a significant life event, such as a major purchase (such as buying another farm) or changes in personal circumstances typically calls for a revisit of both POA and will as they should be aligned with each other.  Second, a timeline of every 5 years.  It is uncommon for a farm to not experience a significant life event over 5 years.  This timeline allows a “check-up” of things that someone may have missed as life on the farm can get quite busy.

Q3. Is it important to have multiple POAs for an incorporated farm?

It all depends on individual circumstances as every farm is unique.  Some have a clear division between personal and farming assets.  In those cases, appointing more than one POA may be considered.  You may also explore separate POAs for personal care and financial matters to minimize any conflicts of interest when attorneys are making decisions.  Whoever you choose, make sure you engage in conversations early with the POA to maximize their understanding and alignment of your wishes.

In summary, Jon Barnett’s guidance highlights the importance of careful planning when appointing a POA within the farming community and having the right team by your side to help guide you in making these decisions. 

To contact Jon Barnett:

Email: jon.barnett@mckenzielake.com

At Tall Oak Capital Advisors, we understand the complexity of these decisions and the importance of a comprehensive approach. We coordinate closely with other professionals, including accountants, lawyers like Jon Barnett, and other experts, to ensure that all aspects of your farm operations and personal estate are seamlessly managed. This collaborative approach helps us provide holistic advice tailored to your unique needs.

If you would like to learn more about Powers of Attorney click here for our original blog post: In addition, if you have any questions or wish to discuss further with the Tall Oak team, please don’t hesitate to book a meeting.


The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The discussion on Powers of Attorney (POA) and related legal topics is intended to offer general insights and guidance, particularly from an agricultural perspective, and should not be construed as specific legal advice for any individual situation.

For personalized advice and assistance tailored to your unique circumstances, we strongly recommend consulting a legal professional. Every situation is different, and a legal expert can provide advice that considers the specifics of your case, including detailed estate planning and the management of farm operations.

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