A committee is a person or entity appointed by the Court to make
decisions on behalf of an adult that is not capable of making his
or her own decisions about health care and personal affairs and/or
financial and legal affairs (the incapable adult is called the
"patient"). On December 1, 2014, section 18(2) of
the Patients Property Act will become law and impose
additional statutory duties on committees. That section will
read as follows:
18 (2) A
committee must, to the extent reasonable, foster the independence
of the patient and encourage the patient's involvement in any
decision making that affects the patient.
This means that committees have a legal duty to promote the
patient's independence and consult the patient about decisions,
to the extent that promoting and consulting is possible. Of
course, the performance of the duty will depend on the level of
mental capability of the patient in the particular case. The
new statutory duty is in addition to this existing duty set out in
the Patients Property Act:
18 (1) A
committee must exercise the committee's powers for the benefit
of the patient and the patient's family, having regard to the
nature and value of the property of the patient and the
circumstances and needs of the patient and the patient's
It is not difficult to imagine situations where a decision made
"for the benefit of the patient" does not "foster
the independence of the patient". While these duties
should be seen as complimentary rather than conflicting, committees
must carefully consider each duty before making decisions on behalf
of the patient.
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On March 31, 2014, BC's new Wills, Estates and Succession Act1 ("WESA") will come into force. WESA introduces new protections for beneficiaries of estates that are in danger of being disputed or deemed ineffective by a court.
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