In the province of Alberta, creating a personal directive is a choice. Do Albertans know what is involved? Knowing about personal directives is a critical part of planning for the future. The more people know, they more they can benefit.

Personal directives aren’t just for the elderly. Planning for the future should be a priority for every Albertan. Take control by learning more about this important tool.

Personal Directives- What Every Albertan Should Know

If you were to become sick or otherwise incapacitated, what would happen? Would your family and loved ones know how to proceed? While no one enjoys thinking about these difficult questions, having the answers is critical.

A personal directive is a simple, voluntary document that outlines how important decisions should be handled in the event that you cannot speak or act for yourself.

The Difference Between Power of Attorney and Personal Directive

People often think that if they’ve given powers of attorney, they’re covered. After all, if you trust someone enough to make decisions about your money, wouldn’t it follow that they’d be set to handle your health?

In Alberta, power of attorney and personal directive are two different things. Giving someone power of attorney means that you’re authorizing them to make decisions about your finances and property on your behalf. A personal directive gives someone the authority to make important, life-related decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to.

It is also helpful to understand that a personal directive is not the same as a Living Will. Unlike a personal directive, Living Wills exclusively handle end-of-life decisions. While you can include information about your death in a personal directive, you also have the freedom to address matters regarding your life.

What Does a Personal Directive Cover?

A personal directive is a legal document that you can choose to create. While it is not mandatory, it does help ensure that even if you are unable to speak for yourself, your wishes will be respected. A personal directive can be written by any Albertan over the age of 18 who has the capacity required to do so.

A personal directive allows another person (the agent) to make decisions as well to provide, refuse, or withdraw consent on matters relating to:

  • Health care
  • Living arrangements
  • Caregivers
  • Non-financial issues such as access to health information
  • Education and employment

A personal directive does not authorize a person to make financial decisions, nor can they request anything illegal.

Other Things You Should Know

A personal directive is not set in stone. In other words, you can change your mind at a later date or even revoke it altogether. What’s important to remember is that if you decide to change or revoke your personal directive, you need to ensure that others know so that there isn’t confusion in a time of need.

A good way to help ensure that your personal directive is kept current is to register it. Registering your personal directive is optional and simply requires that you provide a few key bits of information. The personal directive itself is not stored in the registry.

It is important that you make other people aware of your personal directive. You may wish to speak to your family, health care team, and lawyer to let them know so that in the event of illness or an emergency, they know what to do.

Finally, it is important to understand that a personal directive is only valid until you die. This means that your agent will not have the authority to make decisions about your estate or funeral unless they have also been named executor.

If you don’t have a Personal Directive and lose your mental capacity, certain persons (usually your nearest living relatives, in descending order) would have to apply the Surrogate Court under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act of Alberta for an Order for Guardianship. It is always more expedient and cost effective to have a Personal Directive.