The Representation Agreement Act
On September 1, 2011, the Representation Agreement Act was amended. Representation agreements will now only be used to appoint a representative for personal decisions such as where a person lives, their diet, attire, religion, and with whom they associate; and for health care decisions.
Financial issues will be dealt with under the Power of Attorney Act.
Representatives Appointed by People of Diminished Mental Capacity.
A type of representation agreement may be entered into by a person of limited mental capacity. These provide limited power to a representative to make financial and health care decisions. They are not common.
A care agreement is an agreement between someone who requires personal care and the giver of the care. It is usually a family arrangement that involves a transfer of property in exchange for a promise of “care for life.” The main problem with them is that they are usually oral agreements, and things can go wrong.
Read more about Care Agreements.
If you want to give specific direction to health care providers regarding your health care and/or you wish to limit decision-making ability of relatives or health care representatives, you may make an advanced directive. Care must be taken not to severely limit a representative’s options in the future. The use of these documents will be limited.
If You Don't Have a Power of Attorney
If you don't have an enduring power of attorney and you become mentally incapable, someone has to apply to the court to have a "committee" appointed to look after your financial affairs, or the Public Trustee may do the job.
If You Don't Have a Health Care Representation Agreement
If you don’t have a health care representation agreement, health care decisions would be made according to the Health Care (Consent) Act and Care Facility (Admission) Act. This act provides for a hierarchy of individuals to make decisions. For example, a spouse has priority over children and then all adult children have equal rights. Obviously, if there is no spouse and the children cannot agree on proposed health care, it is highly unlikely that a proactive decision not to provide treatment would be made.
If there are disputes as to treatment, a court-appointed committee would have to make the decisions, or if no one is available, then the Public Trustee may make them.
Read about a well-known real-life case in Life And Death Questions.
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