Ensuring documents are in order is a gift to loved ones

One of the most important and caring things you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to prepare in advance for a time when you may not be able to express your own needs and wishes.

Expressing and legally documenting preferences and instructions can protect you or your family members from financial abuse or exploitation.

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Designating healthcare decision-makers and documenting instructions can create peace-of-mind, minimize dissension and anguish among friends and family, and ensure compliance on critical decisions.

Advance planning can be a very comforting and satisfying process, especially when it's managed by an experienced and trusted legal professional.

Notaries understand the sensitivities and complexities of these planning decisions, and will ensure that your intentions are clear and properly documented so you can rest assured about the future.

If you have close family and friends, expressing your preferences clearly and encouraging them to do the same is one of the greatest gifts you can give them to ensure they are aware of your wishes and to save potential confusion or conflict later on.

Clear, legally documented instructions can also save costly and time-consuming legal intervention in the future.


A power of attorney allows a capable adult to appoint a person or persons to handle their financial and legal matters in the event they are unable to do so themselves or need assistance.

The document also specifies whether these individuals are allowed to act separately or required to act together.

Because of the financial authority conveyed, it is critical the adult fully understands what powers they are granting with this document and have complete trust in the person they are appointing.

It also allows the adult to compensate their designated attorney for performing actions on their behalf.

Who should have a power of attorney? This document has great value for anyone who:

•             Wants to ensure that a trusted person would take care of bill paying, correspondence and financial management in the event of incapacity or absence.

•             May need assistance with their daily finances now or in the future.

•             Wants to avoid the very lengthy and expensive process of a court appointed committee should they suddenly become incapable.

•             Wants to avoid having the public guardian and trustee take over his or her affairs.


A representation agreement appoints a representative, or multiple representatives, to make decisions regarding an individual's health and personal care in the event they are unable to communicate their own wishes.

Depending on how the representation agreement is prepared, a designated representative's authority can include:

•             Routine finances;

•             Decisions regarding healthcare, personal care and limited legal affairs;

•             Refusal or consent to life support treatment and care;

•             Consent to less common medical procedures/treatment;

•             Consent to treatment the adult approved while capable but since losing capacity has refused to consent; and

•             Deciding on living arrangements for the adult, including choosing a care facility.

A notary can help determine the appropriate scope for specific representative(s).

Who should have a representation agreement? Any adult who wants to ensure that a specific person or persons are appointed to make decisions for them, especially if they have no spouse; or no spouse and no children, or if their children are in conflict with one another or would not be good decision makers.

Information courtesy of BC Notaries.


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