uwcore logo

[Resource] Personal Directives

resource image

Use a personal directive to name someone to make personal decisions for you in case you become incapable due to illness or injury.

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

See the full Alberta Government Personal Directive Website here

What is it

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

  • is optional, voluntary and highly recommended
  • names the person or people you have picked to make personal decisions for you – the person you name on the personal directive is called an agent
  • ensures 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
  • can be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) – if you and your agent consent to having your contact information included in the registry

Types of instructions to write

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

  • 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

Reasons 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 if you lose capacity

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

  • you do not get to choose who makes decisions for you
  • 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

  • By

    Government of Alberta

  • Published

    Mar 04, 2024

  • Subject Area
    • General Health and Wellness
    • Mental Health and Wellness
    • Referral and Systems Navigation
    • Caregiving & Caregiver Support
    • Age-friendly Communities
  • Audience
    • Academics
    • Funders
    • Government (Politicians, Policy Makers) and Health Authorities
    • Service Providers (Non-profits, Community Organizations, Local government)
    • Caregivers, Seniors & Volunteers
    • Government
    • Health Authorities
  • Category
    • Advocacy
    • Best Practices
    • Other Resources/Services
    • Leadership & Development
    • Toolkits


Sign up for the Healthy Aging CORE Alberta e-news to keep up-to-date with activity from the platform and the Community-Based Seniors Services (CBSS) sector across the province.

Learn More
First Name *
Last Name *
E-mail *
Organization *