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What is an RA9 and how does it affect your estate plan?

Getting your estate plan in place is important to those who will be left behind when you pass away or when you are not able to make decisions on your own. Part of this is to put a power of attorney in place and name someone to make decisions on your behalf. A Representation Agreement for Personal Health Care Decisions (Personal/Health Care RA9) can be part of your final wishes.

This document will allow for your power of attorney, whomever you name, to make decisions on your behalf. It is called an RA9 because of the section of law it stems from. You can have a "do not resuscitate" portion in it that says no heroic efforts are to be made to save you should something happen that puts your life in jeopardy.

Your document can be limited to personal care and even major and minor health care decisions. This agreement is referred to as an RA7. It can be confusing so it is important that you have a lawyer help you and guide you to put the right agreement in place -- one that gives exactly the amount of decision making power to your power of attorney.

Anyone 19 years of age or older in British Columbia may put these agreements in place. If the person putting this RA7 or RA9 in place is incompetent, they will not be able to enact this agreement.

Some of the areas that your power of attorney will oversee are your diet, your manner of dressing, your living arrangements, such as in a temporary rehabilitation facility or with staff at your home. This person can say what type of participation you will engage in with respect to educational or vocational training. They have access to your personal information.

A few of the decisions that your representative cannot make are that your power of attorney cannot say anything about your children or direct their lives. In other words, this RA9 or RA7 is strictly devoted to you and no one else. He or she also has no say over your religious practices.

Doing your due diligence and researching this subject is something that you really need to think about.

Source: Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, "It's Your Choice Personal Planning Tools," accessed Nov. 12, 2015

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