Decision-making authority

An adult who has lost the capacity to make decisions needs support. A court order is needed for someone to help the adult by acting as:

  • an adult guardian for their personal decisions
  • an adult trustee for their financial decisions
  • both guardian and trustee for all their decisions

When you become a guardian, the court gives you legal authority to make personal decisions for them.

Who needs a guardian

Adults who need a guardian

  • are 18 years of age or older
  • have had a capacity assessment completed that indicates they lack capacity to make personal decisions
  • less intrusive and less restrictive options are not likely to be effective
  • may be vulnerable because of a permanent or temporary disability or illness
  • don’t have a personal directive and need someone to make personal decisions for them

Minors who will need a guardian when they become adults

  • will be 18 years old in the next year
  • will need someone to make their personal decisions after they become an adult

If you want the court order to go into effect when the minor turns 18, you must apply as soon as possible after the minor turns 17.

Just because someone disagrees with an adult’s decisions does not mean they do not have the ability to make their own decisions. If they fully understand the impact of a decision, they’re probably capable of making it.

Types of decisions

Guardians can make personal, non-financial decisions about:

  • healthcare
  • where to live
  • who to associate with
  • participation in educational, vocational and other training
  • participation in social activities
  • employment
  • legal proceedings

Guardians can’t make decisions about:

  • finances
  • organ donation
  • sterilization

Depending on the adult’s needs, a guardian might only be needed for some decisions.

The court decides:

Is guardianship needed?

You may want to look into other options for personal decision-making, such as:

Trusteeship

You may also want to consider financial decision-making options, such as:

You can apply to become both a guardian and a trustee at the same time.

How long will it take

To become a guardian, it usually takes 6 months – from the time your paperwork is ready to be submitted to court – before the court makes a decision.

Urgent situation

Call 911 for a situation where someone is at immediate risk of death or physical harm.

If the decision is urgent – an immediate risk of death or serious physical or mental harm – you can apply for an urgent order.

Before you apply, ensure the decision is truly urgent and take into account other considerations by reviewing this document:

Urgent Guardianship and Trustee Orders

To apply for an urgent order:

Step 1: Fill out the forms

You must fill out these forms:

Form 15: Affidavit of Applicant

Form 39: Notice of Application and Hearing

Form 18: Order

Step 2: File your documents

You or your lawyer:

  • submit your forms to the clerk of the Court of Queen’s Bench
  • set a hearing date
  • submit the fee, payable to ‘Government of Alberta’ for court processing fees - the clerk of the Court will be able to tell you the amount and how to make payment

The court may appoint a guardian who has the authority to make decisions for up to 90 days. If the adult still requires guardianship decision making, an initial guardianship application will be required.

Is there a cost

There are costs for different parts of this process:

  • legal fees – if you use a lawyer to complete the application
  • capacity assessment – charged by the capacity assessor for the completion of the assessment
  • court filing fees – up to $250 for the court to process your documentation
  • background check fee – for the background check to be completed so the results can be provided to the court with your application

If these costs are a financial hardship for you, contact the OPGT.

Requirements to be a guardian

To be a guardian, you must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • consent to being a guardian
  • consider the views and wishes of the adult
  • have a relationship with the adult
  • be available to make decisions
  • not have a conflict with the adult
  • complete a criminal record check and reference checks – following the OPGT’s process

When there’s no one else

If no one is willing or available to help, the OPGT may become the guardian when it’s in the adult’s best interests.

To make a referral to the OPGT, fill out this form:

PDF form issues

Fillable PDF forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save the form:

  1. Save the PDF form to your computer – click or right-click the link and download the form.
  2. Open the PDF form with Adobe Reader. Fill it in and save it.

OPGT Referral (PDF, 389 KB)

Your responsibilities as an adult's guardian

As a guardian, you’re authorized to make decisions for the adult. This means you also have a responsibility to:

  • act in the adult’s best interest
  • be diligent and act in good faith
  • encourage the adult to be as independent as possible
  • act in the least intrusive and restrictive manner (that is effective)
  • inform the adult of important decisions that are made
  • keep a record of the decisions that are made

A guardian has a responsibility to:

  • only access information that has been authorized and is needed for a decision
  • keep personal information about the adult safe from unauthorized access, use or disclosure

Apply to be an adult’s guardian

To be an adult’s guardian – and to ensure you follow the correct process and complete the correct paperwork – you need to consider which way:

  1. You need to consider which decisions the adult needs assistance with:
    • personal decisions only (guardianship)
    • personal and financial decisions (guardianship and trusteeship)
  2. You need to decide to apply without a hearing (desk application) or with a hearing:
Without a Hearing (Desk Application) With a Hearing
  • if you don’t expect anyone to disagree with the application
  • not time sensitive
  • you don’t need to appear in court
  • the judge makes a decision based on the paperwork you submit
  • someone might disagree with the application
  • time sensitive
  • you or your lawyer appears in court
  • application is discussed with the judge
  • the judge makes a decision based on the paperwork you submit and the discussion in court
  1. You need to decide to apply for one of these options:
    • guardianship – desk application
    • guardianship and trusteeship – desk application
    • guardianship – with a hearing
    • guardianship and trusteeship – with a hearing

To start the application process

Select the one option below that best meets the adult’s situation:

  • Guardianship – desk application

    You may want to contact a fee-for-service provider or a lawyer for this process.

    Step 1. Get a capacity assessment

    Have a professional assess whether the adult can make decisions on their own. This is called a capacity assessment. It can be completed by a:

    The capacity assessment must be dated sometime in the 6 months before you submit your application.

    Step 2. Fill out the application forms

    Download the Guide to Applying for Adult Guardianship (PDF, 198 KB).

    Individual forms option

    Fill out these forms separately:

    Form 14: Application
    Form 15: Affidavit of Applicant
    Form 32: Guardianship Plan
    Form 24: Consent of Proposed Guardian (Individual)
    Form 26: Consent of Proposed Alternate Guardian (Individual)
    Form 30: Personal References

    Bundled forms option

    Download and fill out the forms in this bundle:

    Application Bundle

    Trouble opening or completing PDF forms?

    Fillable forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save this form:

    1. Click on the PDF link to save it on your computer.
    2. Launch Adobe Reader.
    3. Open the PDF from within Adobe Reader. You can now fill and save your form.

    Step 3. Submit your application package

    Submit your application to your local OPGT office.

    When you submit your application

    Courthouse staff will contact you by email to request electronic payment by credit card or VISA-debit card of the $250 court filing fee.

    If you do not wish to pay electronically:

    • Include a cheque, bank draft, or money order for the $250 court filing fee made out to the Government of Alberta with your application.
    • Your cheque will be cashed when your application is submitted to the court, which may take up to 6 months.

    After you apply

    OPGT staff will:

    • send a Notice of Application to:
      • the people listed as interested parties in the application
      • anyone else they think should know about the application
    • contact each proposed or alternate decision-maker about the background check process and cost
    • talk with the adult to ask them what they think about the application
    • prepare a report for the court
    • send a copy of the report to you

    If someone doesn’t support your application, they can request a court hearing to oppose it.

  • Guardianship and trusteeship – desk application

    You may want to contact a fee-for-service provider or a lawyer and an accountant to prepare the trusteeship application.

    Step 1. Get a capacity assessment

    Have a professional assess whether the adult can make decisions on their own. This is called a capacity assessment. It can be completed by a:

    The capacity assessment must be dated sometime in the 6 months before you submit your application.

    Step 2. Fill out the application forms

    Download the Guide to Applying for Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship (PDF, 213 KB).

    Individual forms option

    Fill out these forms separately:

    Form 14: Application
    Form 15: Affidavit of Applicant
    Form 32: Guardianship Plan
    Form 34: Trusteeship Plan
    Form 24: Consent of Proposed Guardian (Individual)
    Form 26: Consent of Proposed Alternate Guardian (Individual)
    Form 27: Consent of Proposed Trustee (Individual)
    Form 29: Consent of Proposed Alternate Trustee (Individual)
    Form 30: Personal References
    Form 37: Inventory

    • You may complete the Inventory form at the same time as your application OR you can undertake to complete the Inventory within 6 months after the Trustee Order has been granted.

    Bundled forms option

    Download and fill out the forms in this bundle:

    Application Bundle

    Trouble opening or completing PDF forms?

    Fillable forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save this form:

    1. Click on the PDF link to save it on your computer.
    2. Launch Adobe Reader.
    3. Open the PDF from within Adobe Reader. You can now fill and save your form.

    Step 3. Submit your application package

    Submit your application to your local OPGT office.

    When you submit your application

    Courthouse staff will contact you by email to request electronic payment by credit card or VISA-debit card of the $250 court filing fee.

    If you do not wish to pay electronically:

    • Include a cheque, bank draft, or money order for the $250 court filing fee made out to the Government of Alberta with your application.
    • Your cheque will be cashed when your application is submitted to the court, which may take up to 6 months.

    After you apply

    OPGT staff will:

    • send a Notice of Application to:
      • the people listed as interested parties in the application
      • anyone else they think should know about the application
    • contact each proposed or alternate decision-maker about the background check process and cost
    • talk with the adult to ask them what they think about the application
    • prepare a report for the court
    • send a copy of the report to you

    If someone doesn’t support your application, they can request a court hearing to oppose it.

  • Guardianship – with a hearing

    You may want to contact a fee-for-service provider or a lawyer for this process.

    Step 1. Get a capacity assessment

    Have a professional assess whether the adult can make decisions on their own. This is called a capacity assessment. It can be completed by a:

    The capacity assessment must be dated sometime in the 6 months before you submit your application.

    Step 2. Fill out the application forms

    Download the Guide to Applying for Adult Guardianship (PDF, 198 KB).

    Individual forms option

    Fill out these forms separately:

    Form 14: Application
    Form 15: Affidavit of Applicant
    Form 32: Guardianship Plan
    Form 24: Consent of Proposed Guardian (Individual)
    Form 26: Consent of Proposed Alternate Guardian (Individual)
    Form 30: Personal References
    Form 17: Notice of Application and Hearing

    Bundled forms option

    Download and fill out the forms in this bundle:

    Application Bundle

    Trouble opening or completing PDF forms?

    Fillable forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save this form:

    1. Click on the PDF link to save it on your computer.
    2. Launch Adobe Reader.
    3. Open the PDF from within Adobe Reader. You can now fill and save your form.

    Step 3. Submit your application package

    You or your lawyer:

    • submit your application to the clerk of the Court of Queen’s Bench
    • set a hearing date
    • send a Notice of Application and Hearing to all the interested parties

    When you submit your application:

    • include a cheque or money order for $250 court filing fee made out to the Government of Alberta
    • don’t include cash
    • additional payment options may be available directly through the Court of Queen’s Bench

    A copy of the application package you filed with the court must be served to the OPGT at least 30 days before the hearing date.

    If you’re working with a lawyer, they’ll do this for you.

    After you apply

    OPGT staff will:

    • contact each proposed or alternate decision-maker about the background check process and cost
    • talk with the adult to ask them what they think about the application
    • prepare a report for the court
    • send a copy of the report to you

    You’re responsible to notify all interested parties about the hearing date.

    If an interested party opposed the application, they or their lawyer must attend the hearing to voice their concerns.

  • Guardianship and trusteeship – with a hearing

    You may want to contact a fee-for-service provider or a lawyer and an accountant to prepare the trusteeship application.

    Step 1. Get a capacity assessment

    Have a professional assess whether the adult can make decisions on their own. This is called a capacity assessment. It can be completed by a:

    The capacity assessment must be dated sometime in the 6 months before you submit your application.

    Step 2. Fill out the application forms

    Download the Guide to Applying for Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship (PDF, 213 KB).

    Individual forms option

    Fill out these forms separately:

    Form 14: Application
    Form 15: Affidavit of Applicant
    Form 32: Guardianship Plan
    Form 34: Trusteeship Plan
    Form 24: Consent of Proposed Guardian (Individual)
    Form 26: Consent of Proposed Alternate Guardian (Individual)
    Form 27: Consent of Proposed Trustee (Individual)
    Form 29: Consent of Proposed Alternate Trustee (Individual)
    Form 30: Personal References
    Form 37: Inventory

    • You may complete the Inventory form at the same time as your application OR you can undertake to complete the Inventory within 6 months after the Trustee Order has been granted.

    Form 17: Notice of Application and Hearing

    Bundled forms option

    Download and fill out the forms in this bundle:

    Application Bundle

    Trouble opening or completing PDF forms?

    Fillable forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save this form:

    1. Click on the PDF link to save it on your computer.
    2. Launch Adobe Reader.
    3. Open the PDF from within Adobe Reader. You can now fill and save your form.

    Step 3. Submit your application package

    You or your lawyer:

    • submit your application to the clerk of the Court of Queen’s Bench
    • set a hearing date
    • send a Notice of Application and Hearing to all the interested parties

    When you submit your application:

    • include a cheque or money order for $250 court filing fee made out to the Government of Alberta
    • don’t include cash
    • additional payment options may be available directly through the Court of Queen’s Bench

    A copy of the application package you filed with the court must be served to the OPGT at least 30 days before the hearing date.

    If you’re working with a lawyer, they’ll do this for you.

    After you apply

    OPGT staff will:

    • contact each proposed or alternate decision-maker about the background check process and cost
    • talk with the adult to ask them what they think about the application
    • prepare a report for the court
    • send a copy of the report to you

    You’re responsible to notify all interested parties about the hearing date.

    If an interested party opposed the application, they or their lawyer must attend the hearing to voice their concerns.

When a court order is granted

The newly-appointed guardian is legally responsible to provide a copy of the court order to:

  • the adult
  • other interested parties
  • the OPGT

Read the court order carefully to learn:

  • who has been appointed
  • what authority has been granted
  • when the order needs to be reviewed
  • any other provisions

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