What is a Personal Directive?

What Is a Personal Directive?

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In Alberta, every person 18 years of age or older can write a personal directive, which provides instructions relating to personal (non-financial) decision-making that come into play in the event that the writer becomes unable to make their own decisions. A personal directive can be used to designate one or more agents to make decisions on the writer’s behalf. The writer can also choose to include in their personal directive specific instructions about their care or the care of any minor children.

While it is not mandatory to have a lawyer prepare your personal directive, you may want to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your instructions are properly understood. Our Edmonton wills and estates lawyers can answer any questions you may have regarding what is a personal directive.

Why Do You Need A Personal Directive?

A personal directive only comes into effect if you lose the ability to make personal decisions. This may occur if you are injured or become ill.

If you do not have a personal directive and you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself, a healthcare provider might choose a relative to make decisions related to your health or treatment on your behalf. If your loss of capacity is permanent or long-term, a family member may have to go to court to be designated as your guardian so they can make decisions relating to your care and living-situation.

A personal directive provides your family and friends with the certainty that they are acting according to your wishes, should they ever need to make decisions on your behalf. It can also save them time and money by preventing the need to go to court for a guardianship order.

What To Include In Your Personal Directive

Generally, you should designate at least one agent in your personal directive. However, designating an agent is not mandatory. If you choose not to designate a specific agent, you may want to include detailed instructions regarding how decisions should be made on your behalf.

If there is no one willing to be your agent, you can designate the Public Guardian, but you must have their permission in advance.

In addition to designating an agent, you may wish to include instructions regarding:

  • how your agent should make decisions for you
  • your health care, including specifying any treatments that you specifically would or would not want to receive
  • your living arrangements
  • the care and guardianship of any minor children.

How To Prepare A Personal Directive

You may choose to use a form provided by the government to help you prepare your personal directive, but it is not necessary. A personal directive must be in writing and must contain your signature and the signature of a witness. Be careful! There are certain people who are not eligible to witness your personal directive.

Once it has been signed, you should provide a copy of your personal directive to your agent, to your physician and to any other person who may be relevant. In Alberta, you can choose to register your personal directive, which will allow healthcare professionals to locate your agent quickly in an emergency situation.

Contact our Edmonton Wills and Estates Lawyer For Legal Help Now

Still have questions regarding what is a personal directive? One of our wills and estates lawyers can help. Contact us today to arrange a consultation. A member of our legal team will be pleased to speak with you.

*Disclaimer: Please note the content in this article is a general overview on a legal topic and does not constitute legal advice. Please seek legal help from an Edmonton wills and estates lawyer for more specific legal advice as it pertains to your situation.

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