Senior warning others after hiring local man to write his will
Published Thursday, September 27, 2012 5:20PM MDT Last Updated Friday, September 28, 2012 6:39PM MDT
An Alberta senior is warning others, after he hired a local man to write his will – but got more than he bargained for.
Last winter, Bill Hannah contacted Consumer Watch because he said he paid more than the price quoted for a will.
However, after some investigation – it turns out that would be the least of his worries.
Hannah lives on his own in rural Alberta, and responded to an ad in a seniors paper for ‘Wills done at your kitchen table’, advertising 17 years of legal experience and charging $100.
“I thought ‘Well, when a guy comes to your door and he’s a bonafide lawyer’,” Hannah said.
CTV’s Consumer Watch reporter Laura Lowe investigated and found the man, Michael Steinberg, was far from that description.
“He’s slick,” Hannah said.
Hannah said Steinberg advised he appoint an enduring power of attorney, and suggested someone he knew, but Hannah didn’t.
“He said ‘Oh, I’ve got this Kevin, he’s in real estate, I’ve known him forever really, a good guy’,” Hanna said.
Hannah told CTV News he believed Steinberg was a legal expert, so he signed off on appointing Kevin Grenier to his power of attorney.
When asked if he knew what power of attorney was, Hannah told CTV News he didn’t – and Steinberg didn’t explain it.
The Law Society of Alberta said under certain conditions, an enduring power of attorney allows the appointed person to take control of someone’s estate while they are still alive.
“Bank accounts, property, shares, all sorts of things,” Steve Raby, with the Law Society of Alberta said.
Enduring power of attorney is also permanent, unlike a regular power of attorney.
“Once it kicks in, it lasts until death,” Raby said.
Raby said it’s not common for someone to appoint a person they’ve never met to have this power – and it’s not recommended.
CTV News spoke to Steinberg about the incident in a phone interview, and he said there was no motive for himself, or Kevin Grenier, to profit off of the appointments.
Hannah said he signed the documents in late winter, and has never met Kevin Grenier.
Grenier is an Edmonton real estate agent, who described Steinberg as his acquaintance, and said he was approached by Steinberg about becoming Hannah’s power of attorney.
“Yes, Michael was saying ‘I’d like you to act on behalf of this gentleman if you’re ok with it’,” Grenier said. “I said ‘Yeah, just let me meet him, and find out what it all entails and we’ll go from there’.”
Grenier’s lawyer said his client was never told the power of attorney had been finalized, and a meeting never happened.
However, by the time Hannah became suspicious, it was too late.
Michael Steinberg refused a sit-down interview with CTV, and eventually hung up on the phone interview when asked about his experience as a lawyer.
With files from Laura Lowe