I Want to Get My Affairs in Order in Case I Become Incapable

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There are a number of options for you to make sure the people you trust are appointed to help you manage your affairs now or in the future:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney, or EPA: A power of attorney is a legal document that you can make to appoint someone to be your "attorney". You can give this person the power to deal with your financial and legal affairs. You must be considered mentally capable when making a power of attorney. You can make the power of attorney enduring, so that your attorney can still act on your behalf if you are later considered mentally incapable. A power of attorney, enduring or not, does not include authority for health care or personal care decisions. You also have the option of making your EPA so it is in effect when you are capable. You can still manage your own affairs during this time. You may want your attorneys to assist you during temporary illness or injury, or when you are facing gradual effects from conditions such as dementia.
  • Representation Agreement Section 9 (RA9): A representation agreement is a legal document you can make to appoint one or more persons as your representative. There are two types of Representation Agreements (Section 7 or Section 9) and different capability requirements for each:
    • A Section 9 RA is for people who are capable of understanding the nature and consequences of making the agreement.
    • A Section 7 RA has no specific capability requirements, and is available to people even if they are incapable of making a contract, managing their health care, personal care or legal matters, or the routine management of their financial affairs. (See I want to help a friend or relative manage their affairs)
If you meet the requirements for a RA9, you can grant broader powers to your representative to assist with health care and/or personal care decisions. For example, an RA9 can cover decisions about refusing life support, if specified in the agreement.

An enduring power of attorney and RA9 combined can broadly cover the four areas of concern in personal planning: legal, financial, health and personal.

First steps[edit]

(Enduring) Power of Attorney[edit]

  1. Find out about your options. You will want to consider whether to do a general power of attorney to give your attorney a wide range of powers, or one limited to specific tasks. For example, some banks provide power of attorney forms to appoint someone to deal with your financial affairs at that specific bank and for no other purpose. You will also want to consider whether you want your power of attorney to be enduring. See the publications Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements and Enduring Power of Attorney Fact Sheet for more information.
  2. Identify an attorney (and a possible alternate). This should be someone you trust with your money (for example, a spouse, friend or immediate family member). The word attorney as used here does not mean and does not have to be a lawyer. You can choose who to appoint, with some exceptions. For example, a paid nurse who looks after you cannot be appointed (unless that person is your child, parent or spouse). If you appoint someone under the age of 19, they cannot act until they are an adult.
  3. Find help to make the document. The power of attorney (enduring or not) can be a complicated document to make and execute properly. There are specific rules around the wording of clauses, witnessing and signing requirements. There are also special rules if you include real estate. It is a good idea to consult a lawyer or a notary public who is familiar with drafting personal planning documents, so that your intentions are properly expressed. See the Guide to Making & Registering Your Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) to get informed about your options before meeting with a legal professional.

Representation Agreement Section 9 (RA9)[edit]

  1. See the publication Representation Agreement Overview to consider your options.
  2. Identify the potential representative(s), alternates and monitor. There are multiple roles that people can have in the agreement.
  3. Make a Representation Agreement. See the resource Legal forms for Representation Agreements which contain guidance and standard forms for different types of Representation Agreements. You can get assistance with Nidus In-Person or Phone Appointments to help you determine which documents you need and where to get the legal forms, and more. You can also get help from a lawyer or notary who is familiar with drafting personal planning documents.
You must be at least 19 years of age to make a Representation Agreement in British Columbia.

Some people refer to a "living will" or "advance care plan"— which are informal documents that express wishes and preferences for health care treatments if you become incapable of making those decisions. Although a living will or advance care plan-type document may be helpful to those you appoint, they are not legal documents in BC.

Where to get help[edit]

See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Audrey Jun, March 2017.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.