Who will speak for me if I can’t speak for myself?
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​The BC Adult Guardianship framework is a package of six laws that provide tools for adults to plan ahead for their legal, financial, health and personal care, or to be protected if they are unable to plan ahead. The laws are:

  • Representation Agreement Act
  • Power of Attorney Act
  • Adult Guardianship Act
  • Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act
  • Patients’ Property Act
  • Public Guardian and Trustee Act

The process of assigning another person to make decisions on your behalf is complex and can be confusing. Documents and processes are in accordance to provincial legislation and each has specific purposes. The Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia has created a helpful table that describes the various options for individuals to manage their financial, legal and personal affairs. Click here to view.
You may find it helpful to consult a legal expert for advice and guidance on completing various legal documents.

Below are descriptions of the most common documents that are used for Advance Care Planning.

Representation Agreements

Representation agreements are legal documents which allow people to plan for the possibility of future incapability. These are tools that allow adults to name another person to manage their personal and health care needs and financial matters in the event they are not able to on their own. There are two types of Representation Agreements: Section 7 and Section 9.

With the Representation Agreement (Section 7) Form an adult may name a representative to help make decisions, or make decisions on behalf of the adult, with respect to personal care and health care, the routine management of financial affairs and obtaining legal services for the adult and instructing counsel. Section 7 Representation Agreements cannot:

  • make, or help you make, decisions to refuse health care necessary to preserve life 
  • physically restrain, move or manage you (or allow someone else to so so)
  • make decisions about admission to facility-based care, i.e. nursing home, long-term care.

With the Representation Agreement (Section 9) Form an adult may name a representative to do anything that the representative considers necessary in relation to the personal care or health care of the adult. The person you appoint with a Section 9 Representation Agreement has the authority to do anything that they consider necessary in relation to your personal care or health care, including any of the following:

  • decide where you are to live and with whom, including whether you should live in a care facility;
  • decide whether you should work and, if so, the type of work, the employer, and any related matters;
  • decide whether you should participate in any educational, social, vocational or other activity;
  • decide whether you should have contact or associate with another person;
  • decide whether you should apply for any licence, permit, approval or other authorization required by law for the performance of an activity;
  • make day-to-day decisions on your behalf, including decisions about your diet or dress;
  • give or refuse consent for your health care, even if you refuse to give consent at the time the health care is provided;
  • despite any objection by you, physically restrain, move and manage you, and authorize another person to do these things, if necessary to provide personal care or health care to you.
Your representative does not have the authority, unless specifically stated in the representation agreement:
  • to make arrangements for the temporary care and education of your minor children, or any other persons your care for or support
  • to interfere with your religious practices
  • to make decisions identified under section 34 (2) (f) of the Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act
In a representation agreement made under this section, if a representative is provided the power to give or refuse consent to health care for the adult, the representative may give or refuse consent to health care necessary to preserve life.
More information can be found by visiting the BC Government webpage: Representative Agreements and Enduring Power of Attorney.

Power of Attorney & Enduring Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney are legal documents that appoint one or more persons to handle your financial and legal affairs. In this case, ‘Attorney’ does not mean a lawyer. Your attorney could be your spouse, a family member or close friend whom you trust implicitly. Neither Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney covers personal or health care matters.
The Power of Attorney is only valid while you are capable to make your own decisions. The authority of the Power of Attorney ends as soon as you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
The authority of the Enduring Power of Attorney is valid while you can make your own decisions and remains in place if you become unable to make decisions for yourself.
You may choose to have both a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney. Your attorney can be the same person. You can restrict or limit your attorney to specific dates and/or tasks.

Substitute Decision Maker / Temporary Substitute Decision Maker

A substitute decision maker (SDM) is a person you choose in advance to make health care decisions for you in the event that you can't make them for yourself, i.e. at the end of life or if you are severely injured or during other medical emergencies.
In general, an SDM can agree to or refuse treatment and can withdraw treatment on your behalf. Your SDM can use the information in your advance care plan, statements made by you in the past, and what he or she knows about you personally to make these decisions. For example, your SDM can consent to surgery, refuse to have you placed on life-support machines, or request that you be taken off life support.
The legal document that grants this decision-making power to the person you select may be called a representation agreement. The court may also appoint a substitute decision maker through the process of Committee of Person. In general, the laws regarding a substitute decision-maker vary from province to province.
A temporary substitute decision maker (TSDM) is chosen by the health care provider if you did not authorize an SDM. For more information please visit the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC website.


If you become incapable and have not already named someone to make decisions for you, the BC Supreme Court may appoint someone close to you, or the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of Committeeship:
A Committee of Person makes decisions on your behalf regarding your personal care, health care, and living arrangements of you and/or your dependents, if you are not capable of making these decisions yourself.
A Committee of Estate has full responsibility for your financial and legal affairs.
For more information and resources, please visit the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC website.
MoH     PCQO