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Current article on will making, inheritance issues, financial planning, and representation agreements.

Full speed ahead for personal planning
Amendments to Personal Planning Legislation – September 1, 2011
By the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry

Amendments to personal planning legislation came into effect on September 1, 2011. This is good news for British Columbians, especially for those seniors concerned about getting their affairs in order in the case that they become incapable of making decisions independently.

Amendments to the Representation Agreement Act remove the requirment to consult a lawyer for Reprsentation Agreements with Section 9 Broader Powers, making these Agreements more accessible for health care and personal care planning. You may also choose to use a Representation Agreement to cover routine financial affairs.

Changes to the Power of Attorney Act now enable you to direct those you appoint in your Enduring Power of Attorney as to how they should manage your financial and legal affairs. Additionally, there is a new legal document available—the Advance Directive lets you give specific instructions regarding your health care decisions.

While we are pleased the longawaited amendments are finally in effect, we are aware that these changes may raise questions and seem confusing at first. Fortunately, Nidus, a non-profit charitable organization, is at the forefront of personal planning and provides information and resources on their website. Adjacent are answers to
some initial questions.

What is meant by personal planning legislation?
Personal planning involves making arrangements for while you are alive, in case you need help managing your affairs due to an illness, injury or disability. Personal planning differs from estate planning, which is about making arrangements for after death. Personal planning is about all areas of your life: health care, personal care, legal affairs and financial affairs.

The legal documents that relate to personal planning are:

  • Representation Agreement
  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Advance Directive (as of September 1, 2011)

You may also encounter the term ‘Advance Care Planning’. This term is used by the Ministry of Health and the Health Authorities to encourage planning and discussion about health care matters. Advance care planning is one part of personal planning.

Personal planning is voluntary. You might make a Representation Agreement to cover all the areas of your life or you may choose to make all three documents. Your decision will depend on your situation and your goals. You can learn more about the legal documents involved in personal planning through the Information tab on the Nidus website.

How do the amendments affect the Representation Agreement and/or Enduring Power of Attorney I already have in place?
If you have a Representation Agreement and/or an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, the changes to the law do not require you to re-make your document. However, some of the changes may apply to your existing document. You can learn about the changes and how they may affect your document(s) by reading Nidus’s fact sheets on the September 1, 2011 Amendments. Click on What’s New on the right sidebar at the Nidus website. It is also a good time to check if your existing Representation Agreement and/or Enduring Power of Attorney are registered. The Nidus Registry is a centralized registry for planning documents. The Registry allows your documents to be made available when needed.

I do not have any plans in place, where can I get help?
The first step in personal planning is to find information and discuss it with those who may be involved. The Nidus website has fact sheets, videos, stories and personal planning tools. The website also has information on where to get forms. Please ask someone to help you, if you do not have a computer.

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