Elder financial abuse is a growing area of concern among legal, medical and social work professionals. As individuals age, they often become vulnerable to abuse and financial manipulation by family members or caregivers. Even if the elder is aware of the abuse, there may be little he or she can do to stop it from happening.  The experienced lawyers at McLarty Wolf can assist whether you are an adult in need of financial protection or a family or friend concerned about a loved one.

Mental Incapacity

When an individual becomes mentally incapable of managing his or her healthcare and financial affairs, either as a result of aging or perhaps from an accident or illness, the Court may appoint a person to protect the interests of, and make decisions on behalf of that individual. Sometimes people think of this person as the Legal Guardian of the mentally incapable person, however, in British Columbia the legal term for the person appointed to manage the affairs of the mentally incapable adult is called a Committee.


In many cases, it is necessary to secure a legal committeeship over a family member.  Such committees are appointed under the Patients Property Act and are typically a family member.  If no family member can serve as committee, the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) will assume that role.  The PGT is also automatically appointed statutory property guardian (similar to a committee) under the Adult Guardianship Act of an adult for whom a certificate of incapability has been issued by certain government designated medical professionals.  Committees may be appointed to make financial and legal decisions and/or to make personal care and health care decisions.

The two types of committee are:

  • Committee of the estate, which gives the committee authority over financial, business and legal decisions.
  • Committee of the person, which relates only to health and medical

If you are concerned about the decision-making ability of a family member and wish to be given the legal authority to manage the affairs of your loved one, it is important to speak to a British Columbia committeeship lawyer.

Cases We Handle

Financial abuse

  • Patients Property Act disputes
  • Committeeship applications
  • Disputes involving representatives pursuant to Representation Agreements
  • Disputes involving attorneys pursuant to Powers of Attorney

Vancouver Representation Agreements

The Representation Agreement Act provides a procedure for an individual to appoint someone as their legal representative to handle routine financial matters, make or assist with legal, personal and health care decisions in anticipation of the time when they are will need help with or will be unable to make those decisions on their own.

The Act does not allow for the appointment of a person who is paid to provide personal or health care or who is an employee of a facility providing personal or health care unless the individual appointed is also a child, parent or spouse.  Unless the named person is a spouse, the representation agreement may consider naming another person as a “monitor” to help ensure that the representative lives up to his or her duties.

Responsibilities of Vancouver Representatives

The specific duties of the representative are set forth under the terms of the agreement and can include:

  • Wishes of the Individual: The representative must follow the wishes or the instructions of the individual if it is reasonable to do so.
  • Honesty: The representative must act honestly and in good faith and exercise the care, diligence, and skill of a reasonably prudent person.
  • Separate Money: The representative must keep their money and property separate from those of the individual and keep accounts and records of the individuals’ finances.

Revoking the Agreement

The Representation Agreement Act sets out the way the representation agreement can be cancelled or changed.  To cancel the agreement, if a person is capable, they must deliver a written notice of the revocation to each person appointed as a representative, alternate representative or monitor. That written notice must be delivered in accordance with the regulation by delivering by registered mail, leaving a copy of the notice with the person or at their address with an adult person who resides with the person to be notified.

Power of Attorney Abuse

A “Power of Attorney” is a legal document through which one person, known as “the donor”, authorizes a second person, known as “the attorney”, to act on their behalf.  An individual named in a Power of Attorney has a legal duty to follow the direction of the person giving the authority or to act as a fiduciary if the person can no longer direct them.  Unlike a Representation Agreement which can confer upon the representative the power to make an individual’s personal care and health care decisions, the power of attorney can only authorize the attorney to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the donor.

If the named attorney abuses the terms of a Power of Attorney, the abuse can be stopped by revoking the document, generally where the donor still has legal capacity. Often times this process requires the assistance of a lawyer and the courts to recover money, property or other assets under the terms of the Power of Attorney Act.  If the donor is no longer capable, a concerned person can apply to Court to be appointed committee of the adult pursuant to the Patients Property Act (where the appointment necessarily revokes the Power of Attorney) or make a report to the PGT that an attorney is abusing his or her power. The PGT is required to review that report and conduct an investigation, apply to Court to revoke the power or seek other relief or advise the concerned person to make his or her own application to Court to seek similar relief.


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