Many adults with disabilities have had their right to make decisions taken away. In many cases this has led to abuse and the person being robbed of their ability to defend their human rights.
Article 12 in the UN Convention on the Rights of Person’s with a Disability says people should not lose their legal rights to make decisions just because they have a disability. Article 12 also says that if the person needs help to make decisions they have the right to Supported Decision Making.
BC is a leader in putting supported decision-making into law, policy and practice.
An individual with disabilities can enter a “representation agreement” with a support network. The agreement tells others, like doctors, banks and service providers, that the individual has given the network the authority to support their decision-making and represent them in certain matters. A person does not need to prove anything about their abilities to have a Representation agreement.
Many people now have representation agreements instead of having the court give their decision making rights away to a Committee or Adult Guardian.
A Representation Agreement is a legal document for personal planning in British Columbia. It is a way to let a family member or a friend support you to manage your affairs or make decisions on your behalf if you need help because of an illness, injury or disability. After you turn 19, parental rights end in B.C. and no one, not even your mother, or your spouse, or paid staff, has legal authority.
If you need support to manage your own affairs or make decisions on your own you can choose someone to help you or do this for you. This person must understand your wishes and values, and you must be confident in their skills and abilities. This person cannot be paid to take care of you and you should trust them. This person does not have to live in the same city, province or country as you do. The person can be a friend or a relative.
This agreement will allow someone you have chosen and who you trust to support you in your decision making. They can act for you in health care and personal care areas of your life. A representation agreement can also cover routine financial and legal matters.
Your representative can support you in making decisions about minor health care, routine tests, medications, immunizations, end of life care, pain management as well as risky tests, surgery kidney dialysis and any procedure where you have to get a general anesthetic.
He or she can have final say to refuse life support and can stand up for your wishes if at the time you are unable to express them due to dementia, mental illness or other condition that affects your judgment.
Your representative cannot make decisions that are against the law, such as non-therapeutic sterilization or euthanasia. He or she can support your decision-making about your living arrangements, lifestyle preferences, like participating in activities, looking after pets, arranging for services, relocating or moving, and spiritual matters.
If your representative has to make a decision for you, he or she must check with you first to know what your wishes are. If you are unable to tell them, the representative can make a decision based on what he or she thinks is in your best interests.
Most adults name a monitor in their Representation Agreement for all areas of authority, not just for finances. It is good to have someone available to check that things are going smoothly. The main benefit of the monitor role is that it gives reassurance to professionals and institutions. The legal duties of a monitor are separate and independent from the representative’s decision making role.
The Representation Agreement belongs to you and can be canceled if you revoke it or when you die. If you decide to make a new agreement, make sure you cancel your old one.
If you do not want to use a representation agreement today, you can still create one for use in the future.
After you have completed making your Representation Agreement, you can register it with the Nidus Registry so it is available when needed. The Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre is a non-profit, charitable organization. Nidus provides information to British Columbians about personal planning, specializing in Representation Agreements. They also operate a centralized Registry for personal planning documents. Nidus has a Basic Representation form for free download. It covers basic authorities and is for appointing one representative and one alternate. Nidus also provides custom forms that cover more authorities and offer more options.
A legal professional is not required for a Representation Agreement. Follow the directions in the Nidus package to make it yourself. You will need two witnesses and read the instructions to be sure they are qualified.
Read more at the Nidus Registry page http://www.nidus.ca/?page_id=238>
For more information on Representation Agreements and other agreements you may require to make your life easier and safeguarded, go to www.nidus.ca.