Some people never get around to signing both an Enduring Power of Attorney and a signing a Representation Agreement. When that happens, and the “patient” becomes incapable of managing “life” because of old age, disease (whether mental or physical),  or substance abuse the last resort is that a “Committee” (it’s pronounced “Kom’ mit tee”) can be appointed.

Appointing a Committee is a serious interference with a person’s civil rights. The patient loses the right to manage their finances or in some cases their choice of where and with whom to live. As a result there are a number of safeguards built into the Patient’s Property Act. Two doctors must examine the patient and swear affidavits as to the patient’s incapacity. The applicant has to swear an affidavit as to the patient’s assets and liabilities, income and expenses. The Office of the Public Trustee must review the application and will usually insist on the posting of a fidelity bond. A judge must make an order after service of the application on the patient and his or her near relatives.

A simple Committeeship can be straightforward. However complications can arise. There are two main complications.   In one class there are disagreements amongst family members as to who should be the Committee. In the other class the patient resists the application.

If you are concerned that someone you know and care about is no longer able to take care of themself, then please call us.

Old Age

The sad reality of our time is that care facilities are being flooded with senior citizens. These facilities are being pushed to their breaking point. As of 2015 17.5% of British Columbia’s population was over the age of 65. It is common place to have individuals in care that are unable to make decisions about their medical care, pay their bills, or even remember if and where they have money. In such situations the Public Trustee may eventually step in. However, with the Public Trustee’s increasing case load they may not be able to provide the time you feel is needed to properly manage the patient’s affairs. A private Committeeship allows you to step in and take over personal, medical, and financial decisions that your loved one may no longer be able to make for themselves.

Mental Health

Mental illness is a real issue that is getting more and more attention. Many people have to watch from the sidelines as their friends or family members live in deplorable conditions, waste their money, are taken advantage of, and shy away from treatment.

The courts have held that they have no right to step in and stop people from making bad decisions; if a person wishes to live a destructive and dangerous life he or she is free to do so. However, if the court determines that a person is incapable of handling himself or herself or his or her affairs by reason of mental disability or drugs, then they have the authority to step in.

Visit our FAQ section regarding estate litigation and learn about common issues regarding these cases.