Estate Planning / Elderly Parents

Never too early
to start to plan

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Helping to parent
your parents

It is never too early to start to plan for your elderly parents. Our estate planning team can help navigate clients through several matters including the steps for a power of attorney, protecting their property interests, and committeeship.

Some of the most common questions that our team answers are:

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 an objective issue, 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 by contacting 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’ mental health begins to decline and they are unable make decisions about their own finances, or are 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 affairs, 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.

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

My parent is alone and I live in a different city, I am very concerned about some of their friends taking advantage of him/her.

If you have reason to believe that your parent is vulnerable and is being taken advantage of, 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, find a lawyer who is conversant in the issues of Wills, Estates and Trusts. A lawyer 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 current 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, assuming there is no Representation Agreement and Enduring Power of Attorney 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. They will be of assistance to you if you are unable to proceed with a private Order of Committeeship yourself.

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. Assistance is available to British Columbia residents, but the assistance is based on their income only.

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.

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Keep your aging parents healthy

In Canada, as of July 2020, there were 6,835,866 adults above the age of 65 alive.

Aging well

In Canada, as of 2021, the average life expectancy is 82.66 years which is an increase of 3.64 years.