In British Columbia law, a Representation Agreement is a legal document available to adults for personal planning in case of incapacitation. It grants authorization to one (or more) individuals to become your ‘representative’ and manage your affairs and, if necessary, make decisions on your behalf in the event of injury, disability, or illness.
The Representation Agreement Act
Representation Agreements are enshrined in law thanks to The Representation Agreement Act. This law came into effect over 20 years ago and provides a legally binding mechanism for adults to decide how they will receive assistance with health care-decision making either on an immediate basis or for future planning.
Types of Representation Agreements
In BC law, we have two types of Representation Agreements. Each is consistent in appointing a representative to make decisions on your behalf but they feature some key differences that cover different scopes of needs.
Section 7 Representation Agreement
A Section 7 Representation Agreement grants what are known as ‘Standard Powers’ to your representative. What this means in real terms is your representative will have the ability to consent to minor and major health care on your behalf, personal care, legal affairs, and management of routine financial matters such as bill payment.
An individual does not need to have full mental capacity to execute a Section 7 Representation Agreement. This is a remarkable arrangement and is an area where British Columbian law is out of step with most other jurisdictions.
Section 9 Representation Agreement
Under a Section 9 Representation Agreement your representative possesses “Enhanced Powers” to make decisions on your behalf. This grants the individual in question sweeping powers to make major decisions relating to your healthcare and the scope even extends to end-of-life decisions. It even encompasses the creation of arrangements for the care of minor children. Another key difference is your representative will not have any authority to manage your finances or legal matters.
While a Section 7 Agreement can be made by an individual without their full capacity, a Section 9 Representation Agreement must be made by an individual with full mental capacity. What that means in practice is the individual must understand the consequences of the document.
It is typically used for future planning and doesn’t come into force until an issue such as injury or old age leaves an individual incapacitated.
What Type of Representation Agreement is Right for Me?
It depends on your objective. In the course of our work in estate planning, a Section 7 Representation Agreement is typically made for immediate need by someone who may anticipate incapacitation, illness, or a long-term hospital stay.
A Section 9 Representation Agreement is typically leveraged for future planning, providing peace of mind that necessary plans are in place should an unforeseen event happen in future.
Interested in Creating a Representation Agreement?
If you, or a loved one, is interested in finding out more about Representation Agreements we’d love to discuss your options. Westside Family Law can assist with any legal questions you may have surrounding Representation Agreements or estate law. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.