Planning for your future

Every Albertan who is at least 18 years old should have:

  • a personal directive – for personal decisions
  • an enduring power of attorney – for financial decisions
  • a will – for administering your estate after your death

Alberta does not have living wills. Instead, we have personal directives.

What is it

A personal directive is a legal document you make in case you cannot make your own personal decisions in the future. A personal directive:

  • is optional, voluntary and highly recommended
  • names the person or people you have picked to make personal decisions for you – the person you name on the personal directive is called an agent
  • ensures your written instructions are known in case something happens to you
  • only comes into effect if you are found to lack capacity – that means you are not able to make your own decisions
  • can be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) – if you and your agent consent to having your contact information included in the registry

Types of instructions to write

Your instructions can be about any or all personal matters that are not financial, such as:

  • medical treatments you would or would not want
  • where you would like to live
  • who you would like to live with
  • who will care for your children – if they are minors
  • choices about other personal activities:
    • recreation
    • employment
    • education
  • any other personal and legal decisions

Reasons you should write one

When you write a personal directive:

  • you decide who will be your agent or agents
  • you can have more than one agent and you can choose the areas they will have authority
  • your wishes are written down so there are no questions about what you would want if you lose capacity

This is what may occur if you do not have a personal directive and something happens when you are unable to make your own decisions:

  • you do not get to choose who makes decisions for you
  • a healthcare provider may pick your nearest relative to make decisions for you about:
    • health care
    • temporary residential placement
  • a family member or friend may have to go to court to become your guardian so they can make your personal decisions – this takes time and money

When it is enacted

Your agent or agents can step in to make decisions for you when:

  • a capacity assessment is done and confirms – through a Declaration of Incapacity form – that you are unable to make decisions

You can take back the power to make your own decisions if:

  • a capacity assessment is done and confirms – through a Determination of Regained Capacity form – that you are able to make decisions

Prepare a personal directive

Step 1. Talk to your agent

Talk to the person or persons you want to make decisions for you so they:

  • can agree to be your agent or agents
  • know what your instructions and wishes are

Step 2. Write your personal directive

You have 3 options:

Fill out the form

Instruction Sheet for Personal Directives (PDF, 204 KB)

Personal Directive

Use the form as a guide

You can use the above Personal Directive form as a guide and write your own personal directive without the form.

Get legal advice

Consult a lawyer for legal advice to ensure that your wishes are represented accurately. If you do not have a lawyer, contact the Law Society of Alberta’s Lawyer Referral Service.

Step 3. Sign it

You and a witness have to sign the personal directive to make it a legal document. Make sure you read the form about who can or cannot sign the form as a witness.

Your witness must be someone who is:

  • over 18
  • not your spouse or interdependent partner
  • not your agent
  • not your agent’s spouse or interdependent partner

Your personal directive does not need to be notarized or commissioned.

Step 4. Make copies

Give copies of your personal directive to:

  • your agent or agents
  • your doctor
  • any other key people

Keep your personal directive in a safe place with your other advance care planning documents. Do not submit it to the court or the OPGT.

For additional information about personal directives and how to write one, see our Personal Directive Kit.

Register your personal directive

Registering your personal directive is optional and free. It’s valid even if you don’t register it.

When you register your personal directive with the Government of Alberta, physicians can find out:

  • if you have a personal directive
  • how to contact your agent(s)

The registry:

  • does not keep a copy of your personal directive
  • only lists contact information for you and your agent(s)

You can register your personal directive in any one of these ways:

  • email (preferred)
  • mail
  • fax
  • online

Email, mail or fax

Step 1. Fill out the form

Personal Directives Registry – Registration (PDF, 247 KB)

Step 2. Submit the form

Only send us the completed Registration form. Do not send your personal directive.

Email (preferred), mail or fax the form to us:

Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
4th floor, John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 3Z8
Fax: 780-422-6051
Email: [email protected]

Step 3. Confirm your details

You and your agent(s) will get a letter in the mail from the OPGT. This letter will ask you to consent to including your personal contact information in the registry.

To finish the registration process, follow the directions in the letter.

We can only tell healthcare providers who your agent is – after you properly register your personal directive (includes receiving consent from your agents).

Online

Step 1. Set up your account

Go to the Personal Directive Registry page to set up your online account.

Step 2. Enter your details

Follow the directions online to enter the details about your personal directive.

Step 3. Confirm your details

You and your agent(s) will get a letter in the mail from the OPGT. This letter will ask you to consent to including your personal contact information in the registry.

To finish the registration process, follow the directions in the letter.

We can only tell healthcare providers who your agent is – after you properly register your personal directive (this includes receiving consent from your agents).

Making changes

Remember to update the registry if:

  • your contact information changes
  • your agent’s contact information changes
  • you replace an agent

To change contact info – for you or your agent

  1. Prepare a note that includes:
    • your name
    • your agent’s name
    • the information you want to change
  2. Email (preferred), mail or fax your note to the OPGT.
    • See the “Register your personal directive” section above for our contact details.

If you change your agent

You will need to add their information to your current personal directive by following these steps:

  1. Fill out the Personal Directives Registry – Registration Form (PDF, 247 KB).
    • Make sure you indicate that you are changing a personal directive that is already registered.
  2. Email (preferred), mail or fax your form to the OPGT.
    • See the “Register your personal directive” section above for our contact details.

Videos

Now is the time to plan ahead and write a personal directive

What is a personal directive?

Publications

Personal Directive Kit

Contact

Email the OPGT if you have questions about personal directives or the personal directive registry.

Email: [email protected]

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