Planning for the future, especially anticipating one’s own incapacity or death, is difficult and something many of us postpone or try to ignore.
With that in mind, I am writing to remind your readers of how important it is for them to take the necessary steps to assign someone as their representative in the event that their mental competency deteriorates or is being called into question. This can happen to people of any age and in any number of situations including through a stroke, dementia or serious accident.
In BC, if you are 19 years of age or older, no-one has automatic authority to act on your behalf if you are considered incapable – not even those closest to you – your spouse, parents or children.
And contrary to popular belief, an enduring power of attorney is not all you need to have in place for these situations. It can only assign control re financial matters, but not with respect to decisions around personal care, health care, end of life decisions and so on.
Adults who do not have representation decisions in place are vulnerable to adult guardianship (now called “committeeship”) which is a very expensive court process. If this happens, you can lose your civil rights and legally you become a non-person.
Through a Representation Agreement, you can avoid “committeeship” by giving legal authority to speak and make decisions on your behalf to people you know and trust. This way you can stay in control should you become incapable or incompetent to look after yourself. The government does not have to be involved and family or friends will have legal authority to carry out your wishes.
The legislation governing Representation Agreements is such that an expensive lawyer or notary public does not have to be involved. Nidus, a BC based, non-profit agency, has been created to help guide individuals through the process of drawing up and formalizing this legal document with minimal cost.
In this letter I can only outline the “bare-bones” of why a Representations Agreement is so important. You can find out much more, including how to create a Representation Agreement and accessing relevant forms, by going to the website www.nidus.ca. If you are not computer literate and need help with this, please contact me at 250-365-5077.
There are several volunteers in the Castlegar-Trail area, including myself, who are willing to assist people wanting to learn more.