Garton & Harris

What You Should Know About Representation Agreements

Power of attorney is commonly referenced when discussing estate matters but it’s a topic that can cause confusion. More often than not, a power of attorney gives another person the authority to act on your behalf regarding financial matters should you become incapacitated.

Like having power of attorney, a representation agreement allows for another person to act on your behalf in the event that you are unable to but instead of or in addition to financial matters, they can make decisions about your health.

What Is A Representation Agreement?

With a representation agreement, you are appointing another person to make, or help you make, decisions regarding your health care and personal care in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. If need be, you may also authorize your representative to handle financial and legal matters on your behalf.

Having a representation agreement in place is a critical aspect of estate planning. No one wants to think about losing the ability to make important decisions but without a plan, your family and friends can be put in a very difficult and stressful situation. Without proper representation, the government may have to become involved in your heath and personal care decisions.

What Are A Representatives Responsibilities?

A representative is tasked with fulfilling duties regarding your care if you are not able to. When serving as a representative, a person must:

  • Determine and comply with your current wishes
  • Act in compliance with the wishes you made when you were capable
  • Act in a way that reflects your known beliefs and values should your wishes be unknown
  • If your beliefs and values are unknown, your representative must act in a way that protects your best interests.

Who Can Be A Representative?

Typically, a person will choose a family member or friend to serve as their representative but that isn’t a requirement. A representative must be over 19 years of age and cannot be a paid personal caregiver or an employee of a personal care facility where you live or receive care.

It is possible to appoint more than one representative and either grant both the same authority and designate one as the alternate. It is important to note that a person is under no obligation to serve as a representative and has the right to decline.

What Is The Scope Of A Representation Agreement?

A representation agreement can be revoked provided that a request is submitted in writing. Should a representative become incapable themselves, the agreement will come to an end. In the event of your death, your representative will no longer have the authority to make decisions. Instead, your next of kin or executor will assume responsibility.

Making a representation agreement requires significant knowledge as to how the process works. Given its complexity, it’s best to have the help of a lawyer  who has extensive experience handling this type of law. While the hope is to never need a representative, knowing that you have your affairs in order can provide tremendous peace of mind.

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