Explaining Adult Guardianship and Committee

Whether through illness, accident or other reason, individual adults may no longer be able to manage their own decision making. Foreseeing such a possibility, some incapacitated adults may have already put in place an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement. Those who have not engaged in such advance planning may have family or friends who are in a position to take on the responsibility. The court may appoint these individuals as committees for the incapacitated adult — also known as the patient.

What Is a Committee of Estate?

A committee of estate is an individual who has been granted authority to manage the legal and financial affairs of the patient. A committee of the estate has many legal responsibilities. These can include acting as a litigation guardian, paying bills, managing investments and preparing tax returns.

What Is a Committee of Person?

A committee of person has the right to make decisions about living arrangements, healthcare and other personal matters. A family member or close friend is often encouraged to become a committee due to the personal nature of this role.

A Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement Is in Place — Do I Need to Apply to Be a Committee?

There may be no need to apply for a committee if an enduring power of attorney or a representation agreement is in place. These essentially give to an individual the same kind of authority as a committeeship appointment — that is, the power to make decisions on the patient's behalf.

Note that there is one major difference between the documents. In an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement, the incapacitated adult will have appointed the person that he or she would like to make decisions on his or her behalf. With committeeship, the incapacitated adult has little say as to who becomes appointed to handle his or her affairs.

If a disagreement arises as to who should act on behalf of the patient, there may be a need to apply to become a committee, despite the existence of an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement.

When Is Incapacity Determined?

Incapacity is determined when an individual is declared unfit to make decisions in his or her legal, financial or health matters. The determination of incapacity must be supported by the opinion of two doctors. The test for incapacity examines whether the individual has the requisite ability to understand the impact of his or her decisions.

Who Can Be a Committee?

Although family members typically act as committees, other individuals may apply for appointment. A friend, a neighbour, or even a trust company can ask the court to be granted the power to handle the financial affairs of the patient. In cases where no one is in a position to take on the responsibility, the Public Guardian and Trustee may act as a committee.

Do You Have More Questions about Committee?

Peterson Scott Stark has spent decades assisting families with adult guardianship issues in Surrey, British Columbia. We can answer your questions. Contact our lawyers by calling 604-634-2308 or toll-free at 800-675-2419. You can also reach us by email.