Overview

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

Alberta does not have living wills, but instead has personal directives. If you suffer a serious injury or illness, you may not be able to make decisions. This could be temporary or long term.

If you have a personal directive, the person or people you’ve picked to be your agent would have legal authority to make personal decisions for you.

You can register your personal directive with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) so healthcare providers can easily find your agent or agents if something happens to you.

What is it

A personal directive is a legal document that you write in case you can’t make your own personal decisions in the future. The document:

  • names a person or people you’ve picked to act on your behalf as an agent or agents to make personal decisions for you
  • makes sure your written instructions are known in case something happens to you
  • is optional and voluntary
  • comes into effect if you’re found to lack capacity

Kinds of instructions to write

Your instructions can be about any or all personal matters that are non-financial, such as:

  • medical treatments you would or wouldn’t want
  • where you’d like to live
  • who you’d like to live with
  • who you want to temporarily care for your minor children
  • choices about other personal activities:
    • recreation
    • employment
    • education
  • any other personal and legal decisions

A personal directive can’t be used to request illegal actions.

Why you should write one

When you write a personal directive, you choose who will be your agent or agents. You can have more than one agent and you can choose the areas they will have authority.

If you don’t have a personal directive and it’s determined you’re incapable of providing informed consent, the following happens:

  • you don’t get to choose your agent
  • under the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (PDF, 783 KB), 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, which takes time and money

When it takes effect

Your agent steps in to make decisions for you if:

  • something happens and it looks like you’re unable to make decisions
  • a capacity assessment is done and confirms you can no longer make decisions

If you get better, you can take back the power to make your own decisions. This is also confirmed with a capacity assessment.

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 2 options:

Fill out the form

Schedule 1: Personal Directive (PDF, 166 KB)

Use the form as a guide

You can also use the above Schedule 1 form as a guide and write your own personal directive without the form.

Remember to include the proper signatures.

Step 3. Sign it

As soon as you and your witness sign your personal directive, it’s a legal document.

Step 4. Give out copies

Make copies of your personal directive and give them to:

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

Keep your personal directive in a safe place. You don’t have to submit it to the court or the OPGT.

Register your personal directive

When you register your personal directive with the Government of Alberta, approved healthcare professionals can contact the OPGT to find out:

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

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

The registry:

  • doesn’t keep a copy of your personal directive
  • only lists contact information for you and your agent(s)

There are 2 ways you can register your personal directive.

You can register your personal directive:

  • online
  • by mail

Online

Step 1. Set up your account

Set up an account with Secure Identity and Access Management System (SIAMS).

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 asking for your consent to include your personal contact information in the registry.

Follow the directions in the letter to finish the registration process.

If we don’t hear from you, we can’t share your information with the approved healthcare providers.

Mail

Step 1. Fill out the form

Personal Directives Registry – Registration Form  (PDF, 66 KB)

Step 2. Submit the form

Mail the form to:

Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
4th floor, John E. Brownlee Building
10365 – 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 3Z8

Step 3. Confirm your details

You and your agent(s) will get a letter in the mail asking for your consent to include your personal contact information in the registry.

Follow the directions in the letter to finish the registration process.

If we don’t hear from you, we can’t share your information with the approved healthcare providers.

After you register

Remember to update the registry if:

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

Videos

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

What is a personal directive?

Publications

Personal Directives: Choosing Now for the Future

Understanding Personal Directives

Contact

Find an OPGT office near you