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How to plan for a family member unable to plan for self (Part II)

Once it is identified that a family member is not capable, the family has four main areas of consideration:

1. Legal Matters

a) An adult in BC is a person aged 19 and over. The assumption is an adult has the mental capacity to make decisions.

b) An adult should prepare for possibility of becoming incapacitated by using an enduring power of attorney to appoint a trusted person to act for financial matters.

d) If the family member had individual disability or critical illness insurance, there could be claims coming from the insurance plans.

c) In the case of minors, decision maker is usually a parent or a guardian appointed by the court or if there are none, then the Public Guardian and Trustee's Office of BC.

d) In the case of incapacitated adults, legal papers such as an enduring power of attorney (for financial matters) or a representation agreement (for personal and health care) would be needed to have a trusted person allowed to act legally. If no such trusted person is appointed, again the Public Guardian and Trustee's Office of BC would be appointed.

2. Financial Matters

There are a number of considerations surrounding the financial planning for a family member unable to plan for self due to mental incapacity or physical disabilities.

a) For tax planning, the family member may qualify for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), giving the caregivers tax credits and more exemptions.

b) For government social benefits, there could be benefits through Canada Pension Plan (CPP), provincial disability benefits or social housing benefits.

c) At financial institutions, the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) could help families plan for the retirement income needs of the family member.

d) As well if the family member had individual disability or critical illness insurance, there could be claims coming from the insurance plans.

However, for an incapacitated family member, in order to obtain benefits or to open and manage an RDSP or to make an insurance claim, a legal document to give the power to a guardian, trustee or attorney must be in place.

3. Personal Care

Problems that money can solve are not problems at all. Often the biggest worry is the care of the family member, and the future care once parents/primary caregiver are/is no longer able to provide care.

Personal care has many moving parts, from housing, to roommates, to caregiver and aides, to activities and rehabilitation. The Representation Agreement is a key document that allows the family member to provide input of what he or she wants. The needed capacity to make the Representation Agreement is not as high as for making a will or managing financial affairs.

And most of all, it is important to choose someone who loves and cares for the well-being of the family member, who is vulnerable.

4. Health Care

Often there will come a time when the family member's health care needs exceeds what can be provided at home. A Representative Agreement may be used to

a) determine type of treatments or facility the family member prefers

b) choose to have or not have end of life orders

It is more appropriate than an enduring Power of Attorney, but having an enduring Power of Attorney can be at times allow an attorney to make end of life instructions when the person cannot

Minors and adults who do not have capacity to make decisions need a trusted person to make decisions for them.

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