Whether it is due to an accident, illness, or simply a function of age, when someone becomes mentally incapable of managing their own affairs, the Courts of British Columbia have the power to appoint an individual to make decisions for that person with respect to financial matters, legal matters and healthcare matters, amongst other issues. This person is called a Committee.
To have a person, or if not person is available, the Public Guardian & Trustee, appointed as a Committee, a Committeeship application needs to be made in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, pursuant to the Patient’s Property Act. There are two types of Committeeship the Court can order:
- Committee of the Estate; and
- Committee of the Person.
Which type of committeeship is required depends on the facts of each case and the desired long term outcomes.
While committeeships can be relatively straight forward, if there is a disagreement between family members as to who should be the committee for an individual, or whether there should be a committee at all, sometimes the Courts will have to make a ruling to decide the matter.
Representation Agreements & Powers of Attorney
There are other ways to allow people to assist someone in making decisions, or to make those decisions by agreement being made before an individual becomes incapable of managing their own affairs. These are called Representation agreements or Powers of Attorney.
Powers of Attorney give an individual known as an “attorney” the power to make legal and financial decisions for another person, as well as that person’s property. If the power of attorney is enduring, this power continues even if the individual becomes mentally incapable of making their own decisions.
A Representation Agreement is similar to Powers of Attorney but can also deal with matters relating to health care.
By having a Representation Agreement or Powers of Attorney in place before someone becomes unable to manage their own affairs, individuals maintain the right to decide who will be making decisions for them instead of leaving it up to the Courts to determine.
As to which type of arrangement is best, that differs due to each case’s unique circumstances and requires a detailed analysis of the particular situation and how the law would be applied.
The lawyers at Taylor & Blair can advise you on the legal issues surrounding guardianship and decision making for incapacitated adults, call us today.