A representation agreement is an estate planning document that lets you appoint another person, called a “Representative”, to make personal care and health care decisions on your behalf. It also covers situations where you may not have the capacity to make health care decisions, such as arranging rehabilitation after stroke or consent for surgery as a result of a traffic accident.
A representation agreement creates a contract between you and the Representative. The Representative has certain duties they must follow. For example, the Representative must consult with you, as much as is reason-able, to determine your wishes. If you become mentally incapacitated, the Representative has the authority to have the final say on your wishes despite disagreement by other members of your family. This authority applies in all situations, not just emergencies.
If there is no representation agreement, the person or persons who wish to manage your affairs in the event of your mental incapacity must first apply to the court—a lengthy and expensive process. The applicants will then be known as a “Committee” and their conduct will be governed by provincial legislation. To protect your interests the provincial Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will monitor the actions of the Committee under direction from the court. Government intervention usually brings with it a number of additional delays and expenses, all of which can be avoided by having a representation agreement.