If you’ve ever worried that you will be, at the end of your life, left alone in a care home, with all of your possessions in storage or given away, no friends or family around you, terrible food and nothing to do with your endless, boring days, you’re not alone.
It is an incredibly common fear that we will spend our end-of-days as insignificant, forgotten, warehoused bodies. But there are ways that we can protect our quality of life; our independence.
These personal things that make your life worth living – where you live, with whom you life, what you eat, what you do for entertainment, whether you work or not – these things are called “personal care”.
The legal definition of personal care, as set out in the Representation Agreement Act RSBC 1996, c.405, s.1, is:
“personal care” includes matters respecting
(a) the shelter, employment, diet and dress of an adult,
(b) participation by an adult in social, educational, vocational and other activities,
(c) contact or association by an adult with other persons, and
(d) licences, permits, approvals or other authorizations of an adult to do something;
An adult “is presumed to be capable of making decisions about the adult’s personal care….”. Adult Guardianship Act RSBC 1996, c.6, s.3. In other words, you get to make the decisions for your personal care yourself, as long as you are capable.
So what happens when a person is no longer able to speak to their personal care? Or when, due to illness or frailty, you are feeling vulnerable and unable to make decisions on your own about these issues anymore? How do you make sure you are protected?
The solution is to appoint someone as your representative to help you.
We appoint people to help us deal with our finances if we can’t do that work by ourselves. We appoint people to help us talk with our doctors about the kinds of health care decisions we might need to make. You can also appoint someone – a representative – to help with personal care.
A representative can make sure your personal care wishes are carried out. They can ensure that you are living in the kind of arrangement that meets your standard of living; that continues to foster your independence. They can ensure that your quality of life is maintained as much as possible given whatever situation you are facing.
Your representative is an important person in your life.
It’s absolutely crucial to understand that no one – not even your spouse of 50+ years – has legal authority over your personal care unless you have appointed them in a Representation Agreement, or they have obtained a court order.
Let me repeat that: no one – not your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings – has the ability or the right to make personal care decisions on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself. Without being properly appointed as your representative, or getting a court order for guardianship, your family has no power to help you.
If you never made a representation agreement, the next step is to get a court order declaring you incapable and appointing a guardian – a committee – for you. You are stripped of all of your legal rights in this process, and someone else will look after you and your money for the rest of your days, without your input. This is expensive and time-consuming.
The solution to this potential problem is simple. Make a Representation Agreement. Appoint someone to be your representative for personal care. It’s much simpler to do than you might think, and it will make things so much easier on your family, and you.
Call us – we can help with that.
Tags: estate planning, personal care, Representation Agreement