Overview

If an adult isn’t capable of making decisions, they may be vulnerable. 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

  • aren’t capable of making personal decisions
  • may be vulnerable because of a permanent or temporary disability or illness
  • don’t have a personal directive and needs someone to make decisions for them

Minors who will need an adult guardian

  • 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 when the minor is 17.

Types of decisions

Guardians can make personal, non-financial decisions about:

  • healthcare
  • living arrangements
  • education
  • 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:

Trusteeship

For legal authority to make financial decisions for an adult, learn about trusteeship.

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

Is guardianship needed

If the adult is able to make decisions with proper support, co-decision-making might be a better option.

An adult can’t have a guardian if they have a personal directive.

How long does it take

To become a guardian, it usually takes 3 to 6 months before the:

  • paperwork is finalized
  • court makes a decision

If the situation is urgent:

The court appoints a temporary guardian who has the authority to make decisions for up to 90 days.

Background checks

For all guardianship applications, the OPGT does a:

  • reference check
  • criminal record check

If you’re also applying to become a trustee, we’ll do a credit check.

If you have concerns about these checks and how they’ll impact your eligibility, contact the OPGT.

Is there a cost

If you use a lawyer to complete your application, they can charge legal fees.

You need to get a capacity assessment done to determine whether the adult can make their own decisions. The capacity assessor may charge a fee for the assessment.

You pay a court filing fee of $250 when you submit your application.

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

Choosing a guardian

A guardian should:

  • have regular contact with the adult
  • have a personal concern for the adult’s well-being
  • live close to the adult
  • be aware of the adult’s values and beliefs

Who can be a guardian

The guardian must:

  • be over 18 years old
  • consent to being a guardian
  • have a close and trusting relationship with the adult – like a:
    • family member
    • close friend

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:

OPGT Referral (PDF, 389 KB)

Your role as an adult's guardian

As a guardian, you’re authorized to assist with or make decisions for the adult. This means you:

  • encourage the adult to be as independent as possible
  • monitor any services the adult receives
  • advocate for any services the adult needs
  • ensure the adult’s rights are protected

Guidance and support

During the decision process, you provide guidance and support to the adult by:

  • gathering information and asking questions
  • including the adult as much as possible
  • keeping records of decisions
  • making a guardianship plan
  • providing informed consent for the adult

Accountability

As a guardian you’re accountable for decisions made for the adult. You must:

  • act diligently and in good-faith
  • act in the adult’s best interest
  • be aware of potential conflicts
  • respect the adult’s dignity and privacy
  • act in the least intrusive and least restrictive way possible

Become an adult's guardian without a hearing

Follow this process if:

  • you don't think your application will be opposed
  • your application isn't time sensitive

With this process:

  • you don’t have to appear in court
  • the judge makes a decision based on the information you submit

You may need a lawyer for this complicated process. Help is also available through the OPGT and other community organizations.

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

If you want to apply for guardianship

Fill out all the forms in this package:

Application Kit for New Guardianship Order (PDF, 601 KB)

If you want to apply for guardianship and trusteeship

Fill out all the forms in this package:

Application for New Guardianship and Trusteeship Order (PDF, 1.1 MB)

You may need a lawyer and an accountant to prepare the trusteeship application.

Step 3. Fill out the background check forms

You must:

Step 4. Submit your application package

Your application package is made up of the documents from the above steps:

  • capacity assessment
  • application forms
  • background check forms

When you submit your application:

  • include a cheque or money order for the $250 court filing fee made out to the Government of Alberta
  • don’t include cash
  • your cheque won’t be cashed for 30 to 50 days

If you’re working with one of the organizations that provide free assistance or with a lawyer, they’ll submit the application package for you.

If you put the application package together on your own:

After you apply

A review officer from the OPGT will:

  • meet with the adult to ask them what they think about the application
  • prepare a report for the court
  • send a copy of the letter to you
  • send a letter to:
    • the people listed as interested parties in the application
    • anyone else they think should know about the application

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

Become an adult's guardian with a hearing

Follow this process if:

  • you think your application will be opposed
  • your application is time-sensitive

With a hearing:

  • you or your lawyer must appear in court
  • the application is discussed before a judge
  • the judge makes a decision by considering the:
    • comments of the people at the hearing
    • information in the application package

You may need a lawyer for this complicated process. Help is also available through the OPGT and other community organizations.

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

If you want to apply for guardianship

Fill out these forms:

Application Kit for New Guardianship Order (PDF, 601 KB)

  • fill out all forms in this package

Form 17: Notice of Application and Hearing – Appointment of Guardian, Trustee or Both (PDF, 38 KB)

If you want to apply for guardianship and trusteeship

Fill out these forms:

Application Kit for New Guardianship and Trusteeship Order (PDF, 1.1 MB)

  • fill out all the forms in this package

Form 17: Notice of Application and Hearing – Appointment of Guardian, Trustee or Both (PDF, 38 KB)

You may need a lawyer and an accountant to prepare the trusteeship application.

Step 3. Fill out the background check forms

You must:

Step 4. Submit your application package

Your application package is made up of the documents from the above steps:

  • capacity assessment
  • application forms
  • background check forms

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
  • your cheque won’t be cashed for 30 to 50 days

You or your lawyer:

  • submit your application to the clerk of the Court of Queen’s Bench
  • set a hearing date
  • notify all the interested parties

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:

  • are working with a lawyer, they’ll do this for you
  • put the application package together on your own, contact the OPGT for instructions

After you apply

A review officer from the OPGT will:

  • meet with the adult to ask them what they think about the application for guardianship
  • 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.

When adult guardianship is granted

Copies of the court order are sent to:

  • you
  • the adult
  • other interested parties

The court order names:

  • the guardian
  • any alternative guardians
  • the areas the guardian has authority

It may also include a guardianship review deadline.

Decision-maker notices

If you’re a family member or friend of an adult who needs support, you’ll be notified by mail when someone files an application to become or continue being a guardian.
After you get a notice, you’ll have the option to:

  • support the application by ignoring the notice
  • oppose the application by responding to the notice

Video

Publications

Guardianship: Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act

Guardianship: General Overview

Understanding Guardianship

Guide for Private Guardians

Guardianship: Making Decisions on the Represented Adult’s Employment

Guardianship: Making Decisions on the Adult’s Participation in Education or Training

Guardianship: Making Decisions on the Represented Adult’s Health Care

Guardianship: Making Decisions on Legal Proceedings for a Represented Adult

Decision-Making Options: Adult Guardianship and the Trusteeship Act

Contact

Find an OPGT office near you