To prepare for a time when you may not be able to make decisions for yourself, you need to choose someone to make decisions for you. In Alberta, a personal directive is a legal document that names your agent. Your agent is a person you trust to make personal and healthcare decisions for you. In your personal directive you write things such as your important healthcare decisions, where you might want to live, and what’s important to you. Your personal directive only comes into effect if you’re too sick or injured to make decisions for yourself.
Anyone who is 18 years or older should have a personal directive. You should review your personal directive and make changes (if you need to) anytime your health, wishes, or values change.
How is a personal directive different from a Goals of Care Designation?
Your Goals of Care Designation is a medical order that your doctor writes about your healthcare (such as the types of treatments you may have and where you will get care). Your personal directive is a legal document that you write to describe your values and wishes for your personal matters (except money matters, which are not part of your personal directive).
What if I don’t have a personal directive?
If you don’t have a personal directive and you can’t speak for yourself:
- You don’t get to choose who will make decisions for you.
- A healthcare provider may ask your nearest relative to make decisions for you. This may or may not be the person you would choose yourself.
- A family member or friend may have to go to court to become your guardian, which takes time and money.
Do I need a lawyer to write my personal directive?
There are 3 ways to write your personal directive:
- Use the free
personal directive template from Alberta’s Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
- Write your personal directive yourself, without a template. Just make sure you sign it, date it, and have another person sign it (witness it) too.
- Have your lawyer write your personal directive.
Where should I keep my personal directive?
Keep a copy of your personal directive in your Green Sleeve. And be sure to give a copy to your agent, your healthcare provider, and any other people who may need to know your wishes.
Where can I learn more?
To learn more about personal directives see the
personal directive information from the Government of Alberta.