If an individual loses the capacity to make decisions on their own behalf, they require either an individual with power of attorney or committeeship to step into the position of decision maker on their behalf. Power of attorney can only be granted by an individual who has mental capacity. If a person has lost capacity and did not previously execute a power of attorney, then committeeship can be applied for in order to assist them after they have lost capacity.

The Patients Property Act allows for the appointment of a committee (pronounced com-ity) to handle the financial and medical decisions of a dependent adult. In order to be appointed committee, you must apply to the BC Supreme Court for a declaration that the adult is incapable of managing themselves and/or their affairs, and an order appointing the applicant as committee of the adult’s person and/or estate. Depending upon the abilities of the dependent adult, it is possible for the committee to be appointed to only handle financial affairs, medical affairs or both.

A person seeking to be appointed committee will need the support of medical professionals. Specifically, the Act requires affidavits from 2 medical practitioners setting out that, in their opinion, the dependent adult is incapable of managing themselves and/or affairs, and setting out the medical reason for the incapacity.

Prior to the court hearing, the application and the supporting affidavits must be served on both the dependent adult, the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC, and any party who may be affected by the committeeship order. The court can decide that serving the dependent adult with the application and material is not necessary if doing so is deemed to not be in their best interests. The court can also order that the committee can recover from the estate of the dependent adult all reasonable legal fees associated with the committeeship hearing.

If the order is granted, then the committee has all the rights and powers with regards to the property and/or estate of the dependent adult as they, themselves, would have.

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