If your adult child has lost the mental capability to make important legal, financial, or medical decisions for themselves and you’re interested in helping them, you may consider becoming their committee.
Recently on the blog, we presented a broad overview of how committeeship works in Canada. This week, we’re diving into the process of how to obtain committeeship of an adult child in BC.
It is important to note that this blog only outlines the procedure for private committeeship (i.e. a family member steps in as committee to manage the adult child’s affairs). Adult guardianship can also occur with a public committee (i.e. the Public Guardian and Trustee steps in and acts as the guardian of the adult’s legal and financial affairs).
Where do I begin?
If you’re ready to start the process of applying to become your adult child’s committee, the first step is to find an estate lawyer who can help you with your application. Applying for the committeeship of an adult child who has lost the mental capacity to make important decisions for themselves can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. Working with a skilled estate lawyer can help alleviate some of the stress of navigating the legal aspects of this process. They can help you gather the required documents, make necessary arrangements, appear in court on your behalf and even advise you on how to act as committee.
Since committeeship is a somewhat specialized area of estate law, look for a lawyer who is experienced in this kind of work.
What information do I need?
Before appointing a committee, the BC Supreme Court will require evidence that the adult is mentally incapable. The BC Supreme Court will require statements from two doctors declaring that the adult child cannot manage their legal, medical or financial affairs. The doctor’s statements must also explain why the adult child cannot manage their legal, medical or financial affairs (i.e. the adult has a mental disability, etc.). Your estate lawyer can assist you with collecting and organizing the required court documents.
Provide your lawyer with as much information as possible about the medical condition and financial situation of the adult. Bear in mind that some financial institutions may not be willing to share information about their client due to privacy laws.
How do I apply for committeeship?
In order to be appointed a committee, you must apply to the BC Supreme Court and get an order under the Patients Property Act declaring the adult child to be mentally incapable and appointing you as committee. Hence, you will be required to make a court application – which your lawyer will assist you with and argue in court on your behalf.
If the doctors deem it safe to do so, the adult child will need to be notified of your court application. You should also notify any other family members and get their consent to your application if possible – your lawyer will arrange for this. In some circumstances the adult child may oppose the application, and may have a lawyer to argue that they are not incapable. Your lawyer will argue against the adult child’s lawyer in court.
When does committeeship end?
Once a committee has been appointed, committeeship lasts until the adult child dies or the committeeship is discharged. If the adult child dies, their committee continues to manage their affairs until an executor or administrator is appointed for the deceased adult child.
In the circumstance that the adult child becomes capable of making important decisions and managing their affairs again, either the committee or the adult child can apply to court to end their role as committee. The adult child will need to hire a lawyer to argue and provide evidence that the adult child is no longer incapable and can regain their right to manage their own affairs.