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Representation Agreements, health care decisions, and financial decisions

June 15, 2012

A Representation Agreement allows you to appoint one or more Representative to make decisions about your Health Care, Personal Care, or Financial Matters when you are incapable of doing so. In other jurisdictions, this is known as a “Living Will”.  People become incapable in unpredictable ways; it happens to elderly pensioners, middle-aged workers with heart-disease, healthy young drivers and everything in between.

Health care decisions include emergency questions such as: will you take a treatment (ex: blood transfusions)?  Will you be resuscitated?  Will you refuse life-support?  It may also include decisions on palliative care – relief to lessen suffering during treatments, chronic illness or near end-of-life.  If no Representative exists, the responsibility follows a court order or it falls on the next available kin – such as your in-laws – as dictated by statute.  Who are you entrusting to make these decisions?

Personal care decisions affect your quality of life.  Every day you choose who to see, where to go, what to eat, what to wear, and whether to participate in religious practices.  Imagine that for the incapable person, someone else will choose.

Financial management decisions pay your bills, buy your food, pay off your mortgage, grow your investments and basically help you live.  Yet, if incapable, these responsibilities must fall on someone that the third-party banks, brokers, creditors recognize as having authority.

The Representation Agreement is very useful, but it must be prepared carefully with appropriate safeguards and protections for you; after all, your Representative could have the power of life and death over you!  You need to be able to terminate a Representative that you later having a falling out with.  With a prudently and comprehensively prepared Representation Agreement, you can have control even when you are no longer fit to.

Who decides:

Personal Guardian


Your Representative


You, in the past


Temporary Substitute Decision Maker



Patient’s Property Act

Representation Agreement Act

Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act

Health Care (Consent) and Care Facility (Admission) Act


Court Order

You appoint in a Representation Agreement

You outline in an Advance (Medical) Directive

A Health Care Provider consults your relative

Appointment Time

After your incapacity

Before your incapacity

Before your incapacity

After your incapacity

Degree of  Decision-Maker’s Power:

Steps fully into your shoes

4 corners of Representation  Agreement’s authority

4 corners of your pre-decision

One-time consent

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