A Personal Directive is a written, signed, dated and witnessed document that appoints someone else to look after your personal, non-financial matters. In some areas, such a document is known as a “Living Will” – in Alberta, however, the correct legal term is Personal Directive.
A Personal Directive allows you to determine in advance who will make personal (non-financial) decisions on your behalf if you ever lose the mental ability to make these decisions for yourself due to illness or injury, . This can include decisions related to health care, housing and treatment. It only applies while you are alive and ceases to be effective upon your death. You are called the “Maker” and the person you name to make your personal decisions is known as your “Agent”. A Personal Directive does not give authority to make decisions about your financial matters – for that, you need a separate document, called a Power of Attorney.
In your Personal Directive, you can decide who will determine that you are mentally incapable of handling your personal decisions. If you name someone, the determination will be made by that person, after that person has consulted with a physician or psychologist. If you do not name someone, the determination will be made by two service providers, at least one of whom is a physician or psychologist. Either way, the parties must make a written declaration that you lack capacity (this is called a Declaration of Incapacity).
If you become mentally incapacitated and you do not have a Personal Directive, a court will have to appoint a Guardian to make personal decisions on your behalf.
For more information, see:
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about Personal Directives in Alberta.
- this checklist to help create a Personal Directive; and
- this booklet of Frequently asked Questions about Being an Agent in Alberta.
If you would like multiple copies of the above booklets, you can order them for free.