Would you go hiking or go on a road trip without being prepared? What about, emergency supplies, food, or maps? Would you inform someone where you are going and when to expect you back? Would you ask them to check on your home, plants, and pets? So, if we spend so much effort on these details why do we not have a safety plan in place for day to day life?
Incapacity planning – just the idea of this makes me cringe. I can not lie. I try to see the world with a glass is half full perspective, so I find this hard. What happened to the saying always look to the bright side of life or live for today? I can not help but think what if something happens to me? What would I do? This is a place where my anxiety about planning for the unthinkable blocks my common sense. Have you heard fight, flight or freeze- yup I am in flight mode on this one.
Preparing for tomorrow, means making sure that if something were to happen, someone you trust and who has your best interest at heart will be there to ensure that you live your best life possible. The more I think about these words I realize I need to look at incapacity planning differently. Why am I failing to plan for something that is so important?
How to Start Incapacity Planning
Well, if I am going to be completely honest, I know about the importance of having a Will and Power of Attorney but not a Representation Agreement or Enduring Power of Attorney. I learned it is something I should have made as soon as I became an adult. Where do I start? The first place to start is deciding between the two types of Representation Agreements and selecting an Enduring Power of Attorney. These legal documents help you plan for the possibility of incapability by appointing someone you trust to manage your health care, financial and legal needs. Each legal document is different and serves a specific purpose. You will need to pick ones that best suits your needs and current situation. A conversation with your lawyer will help you understand what works best for you.
Two Types of Representation Agreements
There are two types of Representation Agreements, Form 7 and Form 9. A Form 9 agreement appoints someone to make health care decisions, but it does not allow them to make financial decisions on your behalf. Form 7 appoints someone the legal ability to make both personal, health care, routine financial decisions, and obtain legal assistance on your behalf.
In addition to a completed Representation Agreement Form 7 you must also complete the following certificates if they are applicable to your situation. Certificate of:
- Representative or Alternate Representative
- Person Signing for the Adult
Do I Really Need A Lawyer for This?
At a quick glance, these forms appear to be simple. It is not difficult to fill in names, signatures, and a small section for information. You might start to wonder why you would need a lawyer for this. It is important to speak to legal counsel before you complete these forms so that you understand the entire process as well as the true scope of the power you have given someone. A lawyer will make sure that these arrangements can not be easily challenged by people. They will also make sure they are not ruled invalid due to language, omissions, or incorrect filing processes. The explanations in the forms must clearly state your wishes.
For example, Section 7 in the Representation Agreement Form 9, asks for information or an explanation of your wishes. Section 7 should be completed with legal and medical advise from a lawyer and primary care doctor. Ambiguous language or omitted instructions could cause conflict or mismanagement regarding how your health care and finances are managed by the person you appoint.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that declares someone you appoint to make decisions on your behalf regarding legal and financial affairs while you are capable and in the event you became incapable. It is important to note that General Powers of Attorney cease if you become mentally incapable.
The BC Government has put out a brief explanation about Representation Agreements and Enduring Power of Attorney agreements, including links to the basic legal forms and the governing regulations and acts. You should always consult a lawyer before proceeding with these documents.
In the blink of an eye life can change. Wishart Brain and Spine Lawyers sincerely hope that you never need to use these forms. Sadly, when there is no legal incapacitation plan prepared, legal services may be required to assist people trying to help incapacitated loved ones. The laws will dictate who is permitted to make decisions about your care. Other common complications include forms that are invalid, outdated, or the people appointed are no longer willing or capable.
The cost of being prepared in the event of an accident or illness is small in relation to the expenses you could incur by not being prepared. Who do you want to choose what is best for you and your family, someone who loves you or the provincial appointed trustee or guardian? For me, the decision is easy. I will plan for tomorrow so I can live for today.
If you would like to know more about how you can prepare but are worried about the costs and process take advantage of our free consultation. Contact us today.