Common Questions

How can I help a person who cannot manage their own affairs?

If you are currently helping care for an adult 19 years of age or older who needs assistance with decision making due to dementia, stroke, developmental disability or other condition that has affected their mental capability, there are a few options:

  • In BC, a Representation Agreement is a way for adults to give legal authority to person(s) whom he or she trusts. These appointed representative(s) can help the adult by advocating for his or her choices and preferences. They can be authorized to assist the adult or to act on their behalf for health and personal care matters, as well as routine financial affairs and legal matters. There are two types of Representation Agreements. The Representation Agreement Section 7 may be an option for individuals considered incapable of making a Power of Attorney or a Will.
  • An (Enduring) Power of Attorney is another personal planning tool. An adult could have made one--when mentally capable--to appoint supporters to help manage their financial and legal affairs in case of illness, injury or disability.
  • Committeeship refers to a formal procedure for adult guardianship, where the adult is declared mentally incompetent. It involves going to court or to the Public Guardian and Trustee. A legal alternative to Committeeship may be the Representative Agreement with Section 7 standard powers, for adults who did not make a legal document in advance, and who need help now.

Good starting points include:
  • The Nidus Guide to Personal Planning: Stay in Charge of Your Life, from Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, gives an overview of BC's legal documents for personal planning and what can happen if there is no plan for legal arrangements.
  • Committeeship, from the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, explains what a committee is, what committeeship involves, and what your responsibilities are as a committee.
  • LSLAP Manual: Guardianship, from the UBC Law Students Legal Advice Program, outlines the legal options ranging from proactive personal planning tools to court-appointed guardians.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed January 2015

adult guardianship, committee, power of attorney, representation agreement