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What is a Personal Directive?

  •    Effective December 1, 1997, there is a law in Alberta which allows you to sign a document which will help guide your loved ones in making decisions for you when illness or injury prevents you from looking after yourself.


  •     A Personal Directive is a legal document you can have prepared now in case something happens and you cannot make your own decisions in the future.

Why should I make a Personal Directive?

  •     Your family and friends do not have the legal right to make decisions for you.


  •     A loss of capacity is a fact of life for a growing number of Albertans.  Chronic and degenerative illnesses are becoming common.  Sometimes the onset of incapacity is gradual, such as in Alzheimer’s victims; other times it is sudden, such as in accident or stroke victims.


  •     The Personal Directive is a written statement directed to your chosen agent and health care providers which states your wishes pertaining to your medical care if you become seriously ill.  It allows you to choose someone now whom you trust to make decisions relating to your health care, your living accommodation and your employment in the event that you become ill or incapacitated and cannot make those decisions yourself.


  •    A Personal Directive lets your loved ones feel confident that the decisions made on your behalf are the ones which you would want.  It allows the medical professionals to be able to rely on your written instructions or instructions provided by someone whom you have appointed to make those decisions on your behalf.


  •     You can provide instructions about any or all of your personal matters including medical treatments which you may or may not want; where you might wish to live; whom you may wish to live with; and choices about other personal activities.


  •     If you currently have a living will or similar document it should be redone to make sure it complies with the new law.

Why should I have a lawyer prepare my Personal Directive?

  •     A Personal Directive deals with your personal matters and does not deal with your financial matters.  A lawyer can ensure that you fully appreciate and understand the difference.


  •    The law in Alberta does not make it a legal requirement that a lawyer prepare your Personal Directive but a lawyer can ensure that it is prepared properly, that you understand the nature of the document and that it is signed properly.  If it becomes necessary to use your Personal Directive, it is, at that point, too late if it has not been prepared properly.