Is it possible to add an alternate attorney to an existing power of attorney?

My mother is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. She is incapable of any decision-making. She made a power of attorney years ago that named my brother as her attorney. He's done a great job. The problem is he is named as the only attorney, with no backup attorney. My brother's health is now failing. Is there a process to have another attorney added to the power of attorney?



Vancouver, BC

Unfortunately, there is no process for your brother to add another person as backup attorney on behalf of your mother.

Under the law in BC, an adult can appoint an attorney to make decisions on their behalf if the adult becomes mentally incapable. This is called an enduring power of attorney. The authority of an attorney ends if the attorney becomes incapable or dies. An adult who has made an enduring power of attorney can change it, but not if they are "incapable of understanding the nature and consequences of doing so." That is, if the adult has lost their capacity, they cannot change their power of attorney.

There are other options you might want to consider.

A standard representation agreement

Someone who doesn’t have the legal capacity to make or change an enduring power of attorney may still be able to make a representation agreement. A person can make a standard representation agreement even if they cannot manage their routine financial affairs or look after their daily needs.

A representation agreement is another type of legal document that enables an adult to authorize someone to make decisions for them when they can no longer manage on their own. The representative can make decisions relating to health care and personal care matters. With a standard representation agreement, the representative can also be authorized to handle routine management of financial affairs and most legal matters. Here, we explain standard representation agreements and how to make one.

A pension trusteeship

If an older adult's financial situation is not complicated (for example, there are no significant assets and their only income is federal pension monies), a pension trusteeship with the income security programs in Ottawa could be sufficient. This option is more formally known as a third-party administrator of pension funds.

A person or agency can apply to be the administrator of the adult's pension funds. In Vancouver, the Bloom Group is an agency that provides this service for incapable people, including homeless individuals. The federal government has more information. They also explain when a form of pension trusteeship is available for a veteran’s pension.

A committeeship

If an adult is mentally incapable of managing their own affairs, someone can be appointed to manage the adult's affairs on their behalf. This is referred to as committeeship. A committee must apply to court to be appointed under this law. Dial-A-Law has more on committeeship.

The Public Guardian and Trustee

The Public Guardian and Trustee could become the committee or "statutory property guardian" if no one else is available or willing. The Public Guardian does charge a fee for its services. They should be contacted for more information.

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

Retired lawyer and consultant
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in April 2021

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