What is A Representation Agreement?
In 1999 the Representation Agreement was introduced in British Columbia in the Representation Agreement Act of BC. This new instrument should be included in any Estate Plan.
A Representation Agreement creates one document that can give a representative you select the legal power to carry out your wishes if it happens that you are incapacitated and unable to make such decisions yourself. It replaces what was formerly known as an Enduring Power of Attorney.
The Representation Agreement encompasses things such as your wishes on personal care, health care, legal and financial affairs in one agreement. Note that the Representation Agreement is only intended to replace Enduring Powers of Attorney: all other forms of Power of Attorney are unaffected.
Each of us has differing individual circumstances and our own individual concerns on this subject. It is vital that you make any decisions with complete information on the potential impact on your personal wishes and your Estate. We strongly recommend discussing these matters with your legal counsel.
What Is A Power of Attorney?
Whether you’re 21 years old or 92, you can be involved in an accident or suddenly fall ill. You may be unable to manage your personal or family business affairs, perhaps for a considerable or even indefinite period of time. This can cause serious problems, for example, with managing personal finances, disposal of jointly owned assets such as Real Estate, or the handling of personal information such as income tax forms.
Your spouse cannot automatically manage your personal business and legal matters. If you are mentally incapacitated and no other provision has been made, the Public Trustee will take over the management of your business and legal affairs. This can prove to be very expensive and cause considerable difficulties.
You can avoid these problems by appointing someone to act on your behalf through a Power of Attorney. There are several types of Power of Attorney. Normally, a power of attorney ends when you are incapable of making decisions.
While a Power of Attorney is sufficient and legally binding for the specific matters set out in the document, they can’t cover health care decisions. A special form of this instrument, the Enduring Power of Attorney, took effect when you were no longer able to make decisions due to mental incapacity. These were replaced by Representation Agreements in British Columbia (see above).
One usually thinks of Guardianship in terms of minor children.
There are, however, occasions when various forms of assistance and care need to be given to adults, sometimes during their middle years and sometimes during the last years of their life.
As with wills, insurance policies and other such arrangements, the necessary documentation needs to be prepared and signed while we are of sound mind.
Customarily Adult Guardianship documents include Powers of Attorney (see above) and Representation Agreements (see above). These generally will appoint someone to handle our money and affairs if and when we are unable to do so ourselves and provide for someone to make personal care, housing and medical decisions in such circumstances.
It is important that we protect ourselves by having the appropriate documents completed before they are needed!
Questions? Contact our office with any concerns you may have.