What Are Representation Agreements in BC?
If you are planning ahead, whether for yourself or a loved one, you may be feeling overwhelmed with all the choices and documents. One vital legal document that we should all have is a representation agreement. In this post, we will look at what this document is and why you may need one. Hopefully, this will make the process easier to understand.
What Is a Representation Agreement?
In simple terms, a representation agreement is a legal document in British Columbia that provides instructions about an individual’s preferences for healthcare and personal care in the event they are incapacitated or unable to speak for themselves. This document gives someone the authorization to represent you and make decisions on your behalf for simple things and complex things like dental procedures, surgery and decisions about feeding options. Not only that, some medical staff won’t even share their patients’ details with a next of kin, if they don’t have a representation agreement allowing that person to receive information.
Of course, you can choose when the document becomes valid—for example, the moment you sign it or when you lose your capacity or any other triggering situation.
The person you designate as your representative is able to make decisions on your behalf about your health and personal care in case you cannot speak for yourself. Your voice, as long as you are mentally capable, takes precedence over any appointment powers. A representation agreement can also cover some financial matters related to medical support.
Why Do I Need One?
Unfortunately, there are many instances when a person may be taken advantage of as they age or when an unexpected disability arises. For those no longer able to make thoughtful decisions, having a trusted person act on their behalf can prevent abuse.
You should create and sign a representation agreement while you are still in a right state of mind. This ensures that your representative is someone you love and trust and will act in your best interests.
You never know when an accident might happen. If you have a representation agreement in place and were involved in an accident where you are no longer able to speak for yourself, the person of your choice, that is, your representative, would be able to discuss treatment plans with your doctors and nurses. If you don’t have this document, some medical professionals may still accept decisions made by your next of kin, but more and more they are requiring legal documentation before proceeding with treatments after patients are in stable condition.
The cost to prepare a representation agreement after an adult has lost capacity can be quite high, and the process bureaucratic. In such cases, you’d need to hire a lawyer and apply to the court to be appointed the decision maker for someone.
If you are starting to put your life affairs in order, we suggest that you prepare a representation agreement. At Zancope Notary, we can help you understand the importance of this document as it fits your particular needs, and work with you to create a legal representation agreement that will serve you well into the future. Contact us today to make an appointment or simply learn more about personal planning documents.