Personal decisions

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

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

You may not be able to make decisions if you suffer a serious:

  • injury – like from a car accident
  • illness – like a heart attack or disease

When you make a personal directive, the person or people you pick to be your agent have legal authority to make personal decisions for you. This could be temporary or long term.

You can register your personal directive with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT). This is a good idea because it helps healthcare providers easily find your agent or agents if something happens to you.

What is it

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

  • is optional and voluntary
  • names the person or people you have picked to make personal decisions for you – a person you name on the personal directive is called an agent
  • makes sure 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

Kinds of instructions to write

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

  • 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

A personal directive can not be used to request illegal actions.

Why 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

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

  • you do not get to choose your agent
  • 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 takes effect

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

  • something happens and it looks like you are unable to make decisions
  • a capacity assessment is done and confirms you are unable to make decisions

You can take back the power to make your own decisions when or if you get better. 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

Personal Directive (XDP, 44 KB)

Use the form as a guide

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

Remember to include the proper signatures.

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 can not sign the form as a witness.

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 find out:

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

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

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:

  • online
  • by mail or fax

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 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, 247 KB)

Step 2. Submit the form

Mail or fax the form to:

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

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

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

Email: [email protected]