Committeeship is the authority granted by the Court which appoints one or more persons to attend to the personal and/or financial and legal affairs of an adult who is not capable of doing so (the “Patient”). This can occur because of lifelong issues, severe injuries from accidents, illnesses or the effects of aging. In British Columbia, committeeship is often required to assist individuals with aging parents who may no longer be mentally competent to care for themselves or to manage their own affairs.
How Committeeship Works
There are two basic methods for conferring adult guardianship through the process of committeeship. In some cases, family members or loved ones can attend a court hearing in the British Columbia Supreme Court to apply for private committeeship under the provisions of the Patients Property Act.
If no-one is readily available to be appointed committee, the role can be assumed by the Public Guardian and Trustee under specific legislation and the Patient’s affairs will be administered in accordance with set guidelines.
Generally, the appointed committee will attend to the financial and legal affairs of the Patient under the annual supervision of the Public Guardian and Trustee and/or will make decisions related to the Patient’s care, living arrangements and healthcare. In British Columbia, committeeship is considered a last resort for individuals who do not have a valid Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement in place, who cannot care for themselves or their affairs and who need a guardian to act on their behalf.
Who Needs Committeeship?
Individuals who have experienced diminished mental capabilities or who are incapacitated due to an accident or a medical condition may benefit from having their legal and personal matters handled by a committee.
For example, in the case of an elderly parent with dementia who requires more care than his or her child can reasonably provide, committeeship could allow access to the parent’s assets so that steps can be taken to find the most suitable accommodation and access the most appropriate care for the elderly parent. In this case, committeeship will give the child the resources and authority to take the necessary steps in keeping with the best interests of the elderly parent.
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