Representation Agreements are relatively new for BC and came into force on February 28, 2000. This legal document gives your representative the power to make virtually any type of decision that may affect you if you become unable due to illness or injury. A Representation Agreement can replace an Enduring Power of Attorney with regard to financial, property and business affairs, and in addition, can provide for your wishes for health care treatments or services you may, or may not, want. A Representation Agreement also can allow you to describe clearly the circumstances under which the Agreement will come into force, and the representative cannot use the Agreement until the specific event takes place.
If you already have an existing Enduring Power of Attorney, you can make a Representation Agreement just for your health care wishes. Currently, it is the provincial government’s intention that you no longer will be able to make an Enduring Power of Attorney after Sept. 1, 2002. A pre-existing Enduring Power of Attorney made before that date will continue to remain in effect after that date.
Two forms of Representation Agreements can be made: a Section 9 Agreement and a Section 7 Agreement. A Section 9 Agreement is a document with general powers, allowing your representative to make virtually any type of decision that may affect you. If you are making a Section 9 Agreement, the law requires that you consult with a lawyer in order to make sure you understand the nature of the authority you are giving your representative. A Section 7 Agreement allows your representative limited powers, such as the routine management of financial affairs. Under Section 7, a representative cannot make major decisions such as the sale of property or the refusal of life supporting care. A Section 7 Agreement should be considered if you are at the stage where you are not legally able to make a Section 9 Agreement. With a Section 7 Agreement, a “monitor” must be appointed, whose role is to oversee what the representative is doing.
You can choose more than one representative; for example you can choose one individual for health care decisions and another for financial and legal matters. You may even want to have your representatives consult with each other. You also can choose alternate representatives to act in place of your representatives if they are unable to act. You can change or cancel your Agreement at any time, provided you are capable of doing so. There are very specific requirements regarding the signing and witnessing of a Representation Agreement in order for it to be valid.
If you wish more information on Representation Agreements, you can visit the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC website at www.trustee.bc.ca . An easy-to-read publication that can be accessed at the site is, “It’s Your Choice”. It also provides a useful “Representation Agreement Checklist”. You also can acquire more information from the Representation Agreement Resource Centre at 408-7414.
Update: March 20, 2002
The BC government has decided not to phase out Enduring Powers of Attorney this September; rather, they will be left permanently in place. Representation Agreements will continue also but are intended to give legal force to personal and health care matters, as well as financial matters in limited circumstances.