Elderly Parents

What happens if my parent(s) has no Enduring Power of Attorney and they are beginning to suffer from dementia?

An Enduring Power of Attorney or even a Representation Agreement can still be prepared by a lawyer so long as the parent is capable of giving instructions and is competent. Competency in the Province of British Columbia is a question of fact and each situation is different. Urge your parent to get in to speak to a lawyer as quickly as possible. Help your parent make the appointment and in fact contact the lawyer and tell her or him of your concerns before the parent goes in.

Do my parents need Enduring Powers of Attorney even though their home is owned in joint tenancy?

Absolutely. In the event that one of your parents goes downhill mentally and is unable to make decisions about their own finances or is otherwise in need of some sort of assisted living, the other parent may need to sell the home. If there is no Enduring Power of Attorney the other parent cannot sell the home without an Order of Committeeship.

What is a Committeeship?

If your parent is no longer capable of managing their medical, legal, or financial lives, you can ask the BC Supreme Court to appoint someone as “Committee” of the adult’s person, or as “Committee” of the adult’s estate. 

  1. A Committee of the person will make personal and health related decisions including where the adult will live.
  2. A Committee of the Estate will make all financial and legal decisions on behalf of the adult.

My parent is alone and I am some distance away, I am very concerned about some of his/her friends taking advantage of him/her.

If you have reason to believe that your parent is vulnerable and is being taken advantage of, try to go to the community in which he/she lives as quickly as possible. Speak to your parent’s family physician and speak to his/her lawyer. If he/she does not have a lawyer, go to the yellow pages and look for a lawyer who is conversant in the issues of Wills and Estates and Trusts. He or she can give you some tips and advice. You should also attempt to speak to your parent’s banker.

Many of these professionals may be reluctant to speak to you without your parent’s consent. Accordingly, the first person you need to speak to is the family physician to determine exactly what the capacity level of your parent is. If the physician feels that your parent is incapable of managing himself/herself, you need to speak to a lawyer immediately about obtaining an Order of Committeeship. That is assuming there has been no Representation Agreement and Enduring Power of Attorney put in place. Even if there is an Enduring Power of Attorney in place, it does not prevent the parent, in the interim, from countermanding your orders or someone’s decision. If your parent is clearly being taken advantage of and if his/her capacity is diminishing or diminished, contact the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia (see their web page under Links). They will be of assistance to you in the event that you are unable to proceed with a private Order of Committeeship yourself.

What do I do about a parent who is living on their own and is not eating properly?

Once again, try to go to the community in which your parent lives and speak to his/her family physician. The Province of British Columbia through the various Regional Health Authorities offers assistance to seniors. They also are primarily responsible for the assessment of seniors regarding assisted living. (For more information see under Links.)

My parent needs to go into assisted living, do they need to get rid of all of their property to obtain assistance from the government?

No, your parent can be assessed by a government Social Worker. (See under Links.) Assistance is available to British Columbia residents, but the assistance is based on their income and on their income only.