Appointing a Committee in a divided family
A person makes a Power of Attorney (for financial purposes) or a Representation Agreement (for health care) to appoint someone to act in their place when they can no longer make decisions. If they don’t make the documents, most often a Court Order has to appoint someone (called a “Committee“) to make those decisions. The appointed person(s) is typically a family member.
Late last year, reasons were released in the case of Re Sangha. In the case, the patient, a widower, suffered from a degenerative disease, and his capacity was fading. He made a Power of Attorney and a Representation Agreement, appointing one of his children to act.
However, as time went on, he became upset that the child’s way of handling his care management (he lived in a care facility) and finances was “dictatorial.” He changed his Power of Attorney and Representation Agreement, which prompted Court action.
Evidence showed that the child had used the patient’s credit card to pay legal fees, and that managing the patient’s care made it very difficult for the care facility staff to do their jobs. The Court was given a document that the patient had signed before, called a “Nomination of Committee,” where the same child was nominee.
But the Court held that it first had to consider the best interests of the patient and his family, so that it could appoint a different person where there was good reason to do so.
In this case, the Court felt that there was good reason. The patient had two other children, who ultimately were appointed Co-Committees. The Court has discretion to appoint a Committee, even if it means going outside the family. This case illustrates that the Court will consider the patient’s best interests first.
This ad appeared in the Richmond Review on January 17, 2014.