In September, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vicki van As from Sterling Notary Public in Delta, BC. Vicki has been a notary for four years after graduating with the Leadership Award from the Society of Notaries Public at her graduating ceremony at SFU. Vicki also serves as a board member for the People's Law School.
Jeff: Is there such thing as a living will in Canada or do we use Representation Agreements?
Vicki: The term ‘living will’ is not a legal document in Canada as it is more of a colloquialism. A Representation Agreement (RA) is a legal document in British Columbia, and each Province has their own legal document to reflect your wishes. An RA is a document for personal planning available to adults who want to be able to plan for their future in case they need help making decisions regarding healthcare, medical care and personal care.
Jeff: How does one go about creating an RA?
Vicki: To set up an RA in BC, you may see a lawyer or notary who will walk you through the process. The notary will ask you questions regarding your wishes, who your representative will be, and what your wishes are, etc. The appointed representative should be someone that you trust like a close family member that fully understands your wishes. It cannot be someone that you pay like an employee for instance. Also, you must be 19 years of age or older, be capable of understanding the types of authorities that exist in an RA and the consequences of giving these authorities to a representative.
Jeff: What kinds of issues need to be considered when drafting an RA?
Vicki: Since an RA is about the time of life when you are no longer able to make decisions, it’s not only important to consider who your representative should be, but also the scope and which type of authority you want to give them. In BC, there are two types of RAs:
Section 7 with Standard powers: This RA has limited powers and available to adults who are experiencing mental competency concerns and may require help today.
Section 9 with Broader powers: This RA provides broader coverage and available to adults who are interested in planning for their future. Section 9 covers minor and major health care, personal care, and medical care including surgeries, among other things.
Jeff: Having a conversation with family members about an RA may be emotional. How do you suggest going about it?
Vicki: Sterling Notary Public (my practice) has a document called, ‘Statement of Express Wishes’. This document provides the vocabulary to start the conversion with a loved one. It is not a legal document, but rather outlines your values, beliefs, any religious issues and any dignity of life topics that may be a factor when and if your representative needs to enact the RA. It is always a good idea to discuss your wishes and thoughts ahead of time since the representative can make very broad decisions on your behalf if they need to; so it’s good that you express your thoughts ahead of time. Reviewing your family medical history is important here too as it may influence your wishes.
Jeff: How does this differ from a Power of Attorney document?
Vicki: A Power of Attorney relates only to financial issues, whereas an RA relates strictly to medical, health care and personal care issues.
Jeff: How do I make changes in the future?
Vicki: If you wanted to make changes, or have moved to a different province, it’s best to consult a notary or lawyer in that province since the legislation may be different.
Jeff: Where should I store it, and does it need to be filed anywhere?
Vicki: There is no mandatory filing required of the RA. The person who needs to use it is the one who may retain the original. As with other legal documents, it’s best to store it in a fire-retardant container or somewhere safe that the representative has access to.
Jeff: Who should have a copy?
Vicki: Family members and the family doctor.
Jeff: What is the cost to create an RA?
Vicki: The cost will vary, but at Sterling Notary Public, we charge $225 for a simple one and $425 for a couple’s package. (Taxes not included).
Jeff: There has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Does an RA cover MAID?
Vicki: MAID is health care a patient must request themselves when they are fully capable; therefore it is not covered in this type of legal document. An RA covers end of life issues if you are already on life support and cannot make decisions for yourself.
Jeff: Thank you Vicki. I appreciate your time in answering the questions!
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