What’s the difference between a Section 7 Representation Agreement and a Section 9 Representation Agreement?


They’re both called Representation Agreements, but they do different things.

So what’s the difference between a Section 7 Representation Agreement and a Section 9 Representation Agreement? Why do you want either of them, and when?

Representation Agreements name someone to look after your health care, personal care, and sometimes your finances.

Want to make sure someone can help you if you get sick or just need the help?

What are Representation Agreements?

Representation Agreements are important documents that appoint someone to help you with various tasks. The person who helps you is called your Representative.

There are two kinds of Representation Agreements in BC:

They vary in a couple of important ways, including the kinds of things your representative can help you with.

Let’s start with the one that is most commonly used – a Section 9 Representation Agreement.

What is a Section 9 Representation Agreement?

A Section 9 Representation Agreement is an agreement that lets you appoint someone to help you with a full range of health care decisions.

Some of the things a person can help you with (or do for you) under a Section 9 Representation Agreement include deciding:

  • where you live, and with whom, including whether you live in a care facility;
  • if you should work or retire
  • what kinds of educational, social, vocational or other activities you should participate in;
  • if you should have contact or association with someone else;
  • about applying for licences or permits;
  • various day to day decisions, including what you should eat, or wear;
  • giving or refusing consent to health care;
  • if you should be physically restrained, moved or managed.

Representation Agreements are powerful and important documents. In some cases, your representative could be able to:

  • give or refuse consent to certain restricted kinds of care (including refusing consent to health care necessary to sustain life)
  • make arrangements for the care or education of your children, pets, or others you support or care for;
  • interfere with your religious affairs

What is a Section 7 Representation Agreement?

Section 7 Representation Agreements are also called “Standard Representation Agreements”. They are are most often used by people who have lost some of their mental capacity.

They give your Representative a standard range of powers over your legal, financial, personal and health care.

What does it mean to lose mental capacity?

If you have had a sudden stroke or an accident, you may have lost some or all of your mental capacity to understand legal documents. You must be able to understand the nature and consequences of the documents you are signing.

Other people don’t want to think about these issues, and keep putting this work off. Aging or slow-moving diseases ravage your brain, and one day it’s simply too late.

You can’t make or sign a document you don’t understand. If you have lost capacity, your range of options diminishes.

A Representative in this situation can only help you with routine decisions in every area of your life.

They cannot help you with more advanced decisions – these usually require a Power of Attorney or a Section 9 Representation Agreement (or both).

If you appoint someone under a Section 7 Representation Agreement, they can help you:

  • deal with your personal care
  • pay your bills
  • help you deal with your income, including pensions
  • buy food, shelter or other services you need for your personal care
  • make investments
  • make a wide range of health care decisions with you or for you
  • deal with your legal affairs (except making a Will or a divorce)
  • accept a facility care proposal for your admission to certain kinds of care facilities

Representatives under Section 7 Representation Agreements cannot:

  • make, or help you make, decisions to refuse health care necessary to preserve life
  • physically restrain, move or manage you (or allow someone else to so so)
  • make decisions about where you should go if you need to move into care

Can anyone make a Representation Agreement?


The law that allows us to make Representation Agreements sets out tests for whether you have the mental capacity to make a Representation Agreement.

The tests for capacity are different for each of the different kinds of Representation Agreements. If you have had a significant medical event happen that interferes with your mental capacity, you might not be able to make a Representation Agreement.

The tests for capacity Section 7 Representation Agreements include things like whether you can choose between different people to help you, and whether you trust the person you choose.

If you wanted to make a Section 9 Representation Agreement, the test for legal capacity is quite different. Essentially, if you can understand the nature and consequences of the agreement, you have the necessary capacity.

Who should I ask to be my Representative?

This is an incredibly important role in your life.

The person you pick to help you should be someone who:

  • you literally trust with your life
  • will put your wishes ahead of their own
  • can keep you safe and properly cared for
  • close enough to you to be able to deal with emergencies
  • be able and willing to keep a record of the work they do for you
  • understands that they are in a position of trust with you, and honour that role
  • will respect the privacy of your personal and medical information
  • can stay calm in the face of stress and grief

This seems complicated. I’m not sure which one I need.

It actually is complicated. Our lives and families can get very messy. A cookie-cutter solution isn’t therefore going to meet everyone’s needs.

It’s actually important to get good advice about these documents, and which one you need. This is one area of life where you want to spend a bit of time and money getting good help. Spending a bit of time working this out now will certainly make your life much easier in the long run.

Here is a chart highlighting some of the things these documents can do for you. Above all, it’s important for you to get good legal advice if you aren’t sure which document you need.

If you need someone to:S7 RAS9 RAPower of Attorney
sell real property  
pay bills or taxes 
make minor health care decisions for you 
make major health care decisions for you 
make controversial health care decisions for you  
make experimental health care decisions for you  
make end-of-life health care decisions for you  
decide where you should live 
help look after your minor children  
choose diagnostic tools for you (MRIs, CT scans)  
help get licences or permits
deal with your investments 

Why don’t I just make both?

Section 7 and Section 9 Representation Agreements do quite different things.

Only make one Representation Agreement at a time. If you make both kinds of representation agreements at the same time, you can contradict yourself or unintentionally revoke the documents. Consequentially, this makes it very difficult for your family to help you.

Let us help you figure out which Representation Agreement is right for you.

Do I need a Representation Agreement? Which one?

That depends on a number of factors. Representation Agreements should be thought about in part as a preventative measure – you make it clear who speaks for you if you are unable to speak yourself.

It gives authority to someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, saving the time and hassle of a temporary substitute decision maker.

Likewise, it helps loved ones and medical experts understand your wishes if you can’t express them directly.

What happens if I don’t have a Representation Agreement?

A family member may have to ask a judge to appoint a Committee for you.

If a judge appoints a committee for you, you will be stripped of your legal rights. You will be declared incapable of managing yourself, your affairs, or both.

A committee is responsible for managing your affairs. Sometimes they are ordered to manage your health and personal care affairs, sometimes they are ordered to help you with your financial affairs, and sometimes they must do both.

The Public Guardian and Trustee could be appointed as your committee if you don’t have a friend or family member who could act for you.

We will talk to you about representation agreements as part of a holistic conversation around these issues. Representation Agreements solve some problems, they don’t cover everything. As a result, we want to look at the whole picture with you.

Each of these documents fits into a bigger future plan. We want you to think about the whole plan, and not just one isolated part.

			October 7, 2017 1:57 pm 
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