Why you Need a Personal Directive in Alberta

No one can predict the future. But, we can do our best to prepare for any unforeseen accidents or situations that may significantly impact one’s life.

One way of doing so is to have a personal directive. 


What is a personal directive?

A personal directive is a legal document that allows you to assign someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in situations where you may not be able to. Essentially, you are giving this person the authority to make health care, housing, and personal decisions on your behalf.

Having a personal directive allows you to choose a person you trust and who holds similar beliefs/values. The person you name in your directive is referred to as your agent. If anything should happen to you, your agent can act on your behalf according to the instructions in your directive.

Before choosing an agent, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Does this person have similar values and beliefs as I do?
  2. Do I trust this person?
  3. Do they hold similar values and beliefs as myself?
  4. Do they live within a similar geographic region as I do?
  5. Will they act in my best interests according to my wishes?

You can choose to have more than one agent. In this case, you would select a primary agent and then an alternate agent. An alternate agent makes decisions on your behalf only if the primary agent is unwilling or unable.

Before you choose someone to be your agent, ask them directly if they are willing to assume this responsibility, if required.

Who should have a personal directive?

Any Albertan over the age of 18 can write a personal directive. However, if you are in one of these situations, creating a directive should be made a priority:

  1. An older adult with dementia: Having a family member who has dementia or Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking. Over time, this disease can impact an individual’s ability to remember or make decisions. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a form of dementia, it is a good idea to create a personal directive, so you can choose who you would like to make your decisions when you cannot do so yourself.
  2. Common-law Couples: If anything happens to you and you are not legally married, your parents will automatically become responsible for making decisions on your behalf if they are still alive.


For many, this can be shocking news. If you have a great relationship with your parents and know your wishes, this might not be a problem. However, if your relationship is strained or you have different religious beliefs, taking the time write a personal directive will be worth it.

In a situation where you lose the ability to make decisions, and you do not have a personal directive, physicians may select a family member on your behalf for health care or residential placement decisions. If your ability to make decisions is affected long-term, your family may have to apply to the courts to become your guardian. This can become a lengthy and expensive burden for your family.

You never know what life may throw your way, whether it’s an unexpected illness or a severe car accident. Planning for your future is one of the best investments you can make for yourself and your family.

If you need help writing a personal directive, contact our team today by calling McGuiness Law at 780-900-7941.