In Canada, representation agreements play a crucial role in empowering individuals to make decisions regarding their health care, personal care, and financial matters. 

What is a Representation Agreement?

A representation agreement is a legal document in Canada that empowers individuals to appoint trusted representatives to make decisions on their behalf regarding health care, personal care, and finances. 

These agreements are particularly crucial for individuals who may become incapable of making decisions independently due to illness, injury, or cognitive impairment. 

Through a representation agreement, individuals can specify their wishes and preferences for medical treatments, living arrangements, and financial management. They can also designate one or more representatives, ensuring that their voice is heard and respected during times of incapacity. 

Representation agreements provide peace of mind and serve as a vital tool for safeguarding personal autonomy and well-being in challenging circumstances.

Types of Representation Agreements 

In British Columbia, Canada, representation agreements come in two primary forms: RA7s and RA9s, each serving different purposes and offering varying levels of decision-making authority.

RA7 (Standard Representation Agreement)

A standard representation agreement is the most common type and is suitable for many individuals.

This type of representation agreement allows individuals to appoint one or more representatives to make decisions on their behalf regarding health care and personal care matters if they become incapable of making decisions independently.

The appointed representative(s) can make decisions related to health care treatments, living arrangements, personal care needs, and more, based on the wishes and instructions outlined in the agreement.

RA9 (Enhanced Representation Agreement)

An enhanced representation agreement provides broader decision-making authority, including decisions regarding both health care and financial matters.

This type of representation agreement allows individuals to appoint one or more representatives to make decisions not only regarding health care and personal care but also concerning financial matters.

The appointed representative(s) can manage financial affairs, such as banking, investments, property transactions, and other financial decisions, in addition to health care and personal care matters.

Both types of representation agreements require careful consideration and should be tailored to meet the individual’s specific needs and preferences. It is essential to seek legal advice when creating a representation agreement to ensure that it aligns with legal requirements and adequately reflects the individual’s wishes and circumstances.

Who Can Be a Representative?

In Canada, the representative(s) appointed in a representation agreement must be individuals who are trusted and capable of making decisions on behalf of the person creating the agreement. 

Here’s who qualifies to act as a person’s representative:

  • Family Members or Friends: Often, individuals choose family members or close friends to act as their representatives in a representation agreement. These individuals should be trustworthy, responsible, and willing to act in the best interests of the person they represent.
  • Professional Representatives: In some cases, individuals may appoint professionals, such as lawyers, accountants, or financial advisors, to act as their representatives. These professionals can provide expertise in managing financial matters or navigating legal issues.
  • Health Care Professionals: For decisions related to health care and personal care, individuals may appoint health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or social workers, as their representatives. These professionals have experience in managing health-related decisions.
  • Trust Companies or Public Agencies: In certain situations, individuals may appoint trust companies or public agencies to act as their representatives. These entities can provide impartial decision-making and management of financial or personal affairs outlined in the agreement.

Benefits and Risks of Representation Agreements

Representation agreements offer several benefits, but they also entail certain risks. Understanding both is the key to making an informed decision regarding such an agreement.

The benefits of representation agreements can include:

  • Personal Autonomy: Representation agreements allow individuals to maintain control over their affairs by appointing trusted representatives to make decisions on their behalf.
  • Tailored Decision Making: Individuals can specify their wishes and preferences for health care, personal care, and financial matters in the agreement.
  • Flexibility: Representation agreements can be customized to meet individual needs, allowing for specific instructions regarding decision-making authority, scope, and limitations.
  • Legal Recognition: Properly executed representation agreements are legally binding documents, providing clarity and legitimacy to decisions made by appointed representatives.

Meanwhile, the risks of representation agreements can include:

  • Potential Misuse: There is a risk that appointed representatives may not act in the best interests of the individual, leading to decisions that do not align with their wishes or preferences.
  • Complexity: Representation agreements can involve complex legal and financial matters, requiring careful consideration and legal advice to ensure they are properly executed.
  • Conflict: Disagreements may arise among family members or between representatives and other stakeholders regarding decision-making authority or the interpretation of the agreement’s terms.
  • Cost: Seeking legal advice and drafting a representation agreement can incur costs, and ongoing management by appointed representatives may involve fees or expenses.

Overall, while representation agreements offer significant benefits in safeguarding personal autonomy and decision-making, individuals should carefully consider the potential risks and seek legal guidance to ensure their interests are protected.

Can I Change a Representation Agreement?

Representation agreements can typically be changed or updated under certain circumstances. 

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Amendments: If you wish to make minor changes or updates to your representation agreement, you may be able to do so by drafting an amendment document. This document should clearly outline any changes and should be signed and dated by you and your representative(s).
  • Revocation: If you no longer wish to be bound by your existing representation agreement, you have the option to revoke it entirely. You can do this by drafting a revocation document, clearly stating your intention to revoke the agreement, and providing copies to all relevant parties.
  • Creating a New Agreement: In some cases, significant changes or circumstances may warrant the creation of an entirely new representation agreement. This could involve appointing new representatives, changing the scope of decision-making authority, or updating your preferences.

How Does an RA Compare to a Power of Attorney?

A representation agreement and a power of attorney are both legal documents that grant decision-making authority to another person. However, they differ in scope and purpose. 

An RA primarily addresses personal and health care decisions, allowing individuals to appoint representatives to make choices on their behalf if they become incapable. 

In contrast, a POA typically covers financial and legal matters, authorizing an agent to manage finances, property, and legal affairs. While both documents serve to protect individuals’ interests, a representation agreement focuses on personal care, while a POA deals with financial and legal matters.

Why You Should Use a Notary for Your Representation Agreement

Representation agreements serve as invaluable tools for Canadians seeking to protect their interests and maintain control over their affairs in the event of incapacity. 

Understanding the legal requirements and implications of representation agreements is essential for all Canadians, as these documents provide peace of mind and offer a practical solution for managing important affairs during challenging times. 

With the guidance and legal assistance of a notary, you can ensure your representation agreement meets all of your preferences and the relevant legal requirements. 

If you are creating a representation agreement in British Columbia, Anahita Rostami Public Notary can help you make the documentation process a breeze.

Get in touch with Anahita Rostami Public Notary today to get started.

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