Personal Directives (Living Wills) in Alberta

In the unlikely event of an injury or illness, no one needs extra stress. A personal directive, or living will, is a gift to your family and friends, telling them exactly what you want so they don’t have the burden of making hard decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself.

Within your personal directive, you can state:

  • Who should act for you if you cannot act on your own
  • The medical treatments you are willing to receive
  • The medical treatments you do not want to receive

The personal directive takes effect only if you are mentally incompetent. Your agent will be legally able to make your health care decisions, including decisions about your accommodation and activities, taking you off life support, and providing medication for pain. These decisions will be based on what you want for yourself as stated in your personal directive.

Personal directives do not contain instructions related to financial matters. Financial matters are handled with a Power of Attorney.

A personal directive is only valid if it is dated, signed by the person making it and witnessed.

If you do not have a personal directive in place and you lose mental capacity in the future, a family member or friend may apply to the court for an order of guardianship. This is a costly and time-consuming procedure.

If You Don’t Have a Personal Directive in Alberta

  • Unsure of what you want, your family may fight about health care decisions
  • Important health care decisions may be delayed until a guardian can be appointed by court order

Additional Information About Personal Directives / Living Wills

  • Usually two people are required to properly assess your mental capacity and declare you incompetent. One must be either a doctor or a psychologist.
  • You can name a trusted person to assess your capacity along with a doctor or psychologist.
  • If you do not name anyone, another service provider in addition to the doctor or psychologist can do the assessment.
  • If you regain your capacity to make decisions—either fully or in part—you, your agent or a service provider can ask for reassessment. What happens next will depend in part on whether the parties agree that capacity has been regained. If you are looking for a living will lawyer or require further details, contact us.

Need More Information About Personal Directives in Alberta?

Click here for answers to some Frequently Asked Questions

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