PERSONAL DIRECTIVES – choosing now for the future

What is a “personal directive”?personal-directive-1

A personal directive

  • is a legal document you write in c ase you cannot make your own personal decisions in the future;
  • ensures your written instructions are known in case something happens and you cannot make your own personal decisions;
  • lets you choose another persona, an agent, to act on your behalf and make personal decisions for you when you cannot make them yourself;
  •  is optional and voluntary in terms of making one;
  • comes into effect if you are found to lack capacity to make personal decisions.

    *(This is taken from the Government of Alberta brochcure – “Personal Directives — choosing for the future”)

Why is a “personal directive” necessary?

If you want to choose who your decision make is, write a personal directive, and name an agent.  Otherwise, under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, a health care provider may select a nearest relative to make decisions for a person who is assessed as being incapable of providing informed consent for health care or temporary residential placement.

 Who will benefit if I make a personal directive?benefits

YOU.  If you are 18 years of age or over and are currently able to make your own decsions, you can gain greater control over your future personal matters by making a personal directive.
Your family and friends. If you have a personal directive, the people who care about you can feel confident that the decisions made on your behalf are what you want.  Personal directives can ease stress in difficult times.
Service providers.  People like doctors, nurses, lawyers and residential care providers who give you care and services will be able to rely on your written instructions or instructions provided by your agent.

Who should I give a copy to and what are my planning options during my life?

Give a copy to your agent, doctor or your health care service provider.

If you wish to plan in advance you may want to:

  • write a personal directive (for non-financial matters);
  • write a supported decision-making authorization (for personal matters);
  • write an enduring power of attorney (for financial matters); and
  • write a will (to plan for financial and personal assets after death).

What kind of instructions can I leave in a personal directive?

Your instructions can be about any or all personal matters that are non-financial, such as:

  • medical treatments you would or would not want
  • where you would like to live
  • who you would like to live with;
  • choices about other personal activities (recreation, employment or education);
  • any other personal and legal decisions; and
  • who you want to care for and educate your minor children if you are not capable of doing so.

A personal directive cannot be used to request illegal actions

How do I write a personal directive?

A voluntary standard form is available on the Senior’s Alberta website or you can create your own personal directive.  The personal directives table gives details of the types of decisions etc. A kit for personal directives is available as a kit called an Advanced Care Plan.

In order to be valid, your personal directive must be signed, dated and witnessed after the Personal Directives Act became law on December 1, 1997.

If you already have a living will or an advanced directive, verify it meets the requirements of the Personal Directives Act to ensure it is legally binding.  A directive made outside of Alberta is valid when it complies with the requirements of the Personal Directives Act  in Alberta.

Personal Directives Registry

The registry permits Albertans to voluntarily register the existence of their personal directive and contact information for your agent(s).  For any questions about the Personal Directives Registry , please contact the Office of the Public Guardian nearest you or call toll-free at 1-877-427-4525.

Office of the Public Guardian

More information is available through this office.  Locations in the province are:

Personal directives - decisions - who and when they are made
Personal directives – decisions – who and when they are made

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