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While Representation Agreements have been available for use in BC since 1993, most people are not aware of their purpose or usefulness in planning for future medical decision making. I like to think of them as medical powers of attorney, as they essentially carry out a similar function – namely appointing a substitute decision maker for medical and personal care decisions in the event that you become unable or incapable of making your own decisions. Your Power of Attorney for carrying out financial and legal transactions does not permit your Attorney to make any medical or personal care decisions for you – this is a common but extremely important misunderstanding.

Similar to a Power of Attorney, the Representation Agreement allows you to name someone you trust to step in and assist your medical team and family with making often difficult and emotionally fraught decisions about your care in the event you are unable to do for a variety of reasons, including dementia, unconsciousness, lack of mental capacity caused by painkilling medications and the like.

The Representation Agreement is a legally binding document on everyone concerned with your care – from your medical team to your close family, and is designed to avoid the unfortunate situation of having your family members disagree about your treatment options or be unclear as to your wishes. At a time in your life where your wishes need to be clearly stated and adhered to, the Representation Agreement is invaluable.

In the Representation Agreement you can set out any specific directions as to your future health care or personal care – you are in charge and you make it known what you want or don’t want. Nobody can legally question your decisions.

One of the issues that you can legally provide for is whether any end of life medical support should be administered or withheld. Many people choose not to allow “heroic measures” to sustain life, preferring to just have medication administered to reduce suffering and therefore be allowed to die peacefully.

Finally, there is a lot of confusion around MAID (medical assistance in dying). MAID is a complex and controversial topic, but for planning purposes, you cannot provide an advance consent to have a MAID death. That may change in the future, but is the current law of the land.

Posted on February 15th, 2024 by David Severide


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