What Is a Personal Directive?

What Is a Personal Directive?

A personal directive is a document that allows the writer to name one or more persons to act as their "agent" and make personal decisions on their behalf in the event that the writer becomes unable to make such decisions. This is distinct from an enduring power of attorney, wherein a representative makes financial decisions on the writer's behalf.

If you so choose, and your named agent consents, you can register your personal directive with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, which can make it easier for healthcare professionals to locate your agent in the event of an emergency.

Our Edmonton probates and wills lawyers may be able to answer any questions you have with respect to personal directives.

When Does the Personal Directive Take Effect?

In order to be valid, a personal directive must be made in writing and be signed and dated by both the person making the personal directive and a witness.

Your personal directive only comes into effect if and when you lose the mental capacity to make personal decisions on your own: for example, due to illness or accident. Your personal directive should name a person who can determine your mental capacity. If that person is not available, the Personal Directives Act provides for two service providers, at least one of which must be a physician or a psychologist, to make a written declaration that you lack mental capacity.

If you regain capacity, your agent and named service provider can issue a determination of regained capacity to make it clear that the personal directive is no longer in effect.

What Kinds of Decisions Are Covered by a Personal Directive?

You may use a personal directive to give your agent as much or as little power as you want. Your personal directive can leave detailed instructions for your agent to follow, or it can give the agent the power to make decisions based on what they think you would want or what they think are your best interests.

An agent can typically make decisions relating to:

  • - medical procedures and health care treatment
  • - where you live
  • - your recreation, social life, education or employment.

If you have minor children, you can name someone in your personal directive to act as their legal guardian while you lack capacity. This does not have to be the same person or persons that you have named as agents.

Considerations When Choosing an Agent

You are not limited to naming a single agent in your personal directive. You can name more than one person and require them to make decisions together. You can also enable your co-agents to make decisions on their own. This may allow one to act if the other is not available. Naming more than one agent has the potential to lead to conflicts and delays, so it can be a good idea to include a mechanism for resolving disputes in your personal directive.

An agent named in a personal directive is not required to act, so discussing this with your proposed agent ahead of time is recommended. It may also be a good idea to name a back-up agent.

Contact our Edmonton Probates and Wills Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Establishing a personal directive is an important matter that requires depth of consideration. Working with an Edmonton probates and wills lawyer may be vital to making sure you understand the legal intricacies of your decision. Whether you have any questions regarding a personal directive, or would like to begin drafting one for yourself, contact us for a consultation today.

*Please be advised that the content in this article is not intended as legal advice, but is a general overview on a legal topic. For legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.

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