Introduction to Adult Guardianship and Substitute Decision-Making (15:I)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on August 10, 2023.

The purpose of the adult guardianship and substitute decision-making legislation in British Columbia is to create a scheme by which adults (people over the age of 19) can plan for their future in the event that they may need assistance with decision making, and to provide a means to assist adults who may be vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

The legislation is informed by the guiding principle that all adults have a right to self-determination and autonomy and that any incursion into this right must be governed by the presumption that they are capable of making their own decisions and that any support provided to them is the least intrusive available.

There are six statutes governing adult guardianship and substitute decision-making:

  • Power of Attorney Act
  • Representation Agreement Act
  • Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act
  • Public Guardian and Trustee Act
  • Adult Guardianship Act
  • Patients Property Act

This chapter will begin with a discussion of the concept of “capacity” or “capability” (which will be used interchangeably), followed by a discussion of the planning mechanisms available to appoint a substitute decision maker and finally to the concept of adult guardianship and how assistance can be provided to vulnerable adults.

© Copyright 2023, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.