Imagine if something happened to you, either an accident or illness where you were no longer able to competently make important decisions about your life. No one likes to imagine the possibility of a life event that takes away their ability to make decisions, but it does happen. And when that happens, families are often in crisis, and they would want to ensure that any decisions they made reflected your wishes. The law in Alberta does not allow for another person to automatically make decisions for anyone over 18, even if they are close family members.
When we discuss advanced planning, a Will may be the first document that comes to mind. It is our legal document that comes into effect after our death, but we do not always understand the importance of having a Personal Directive and Power of Attorney.
A Personal Directive is a legal document you make where you gain greater control over your future personal matters such as health care, living arrangements, legal matters (not financial) etc. It allows you to decide about the person/s you choose to be legally entitled to make personal decisions on your behalf in the event you become mentally incompetent in the future. Having a Personal Directive will not only protect your wishes, it will also reduce the uncertainty for your family during a time of crisis. Along with your family, health care providers will rely on your Personal Directive to ensure your wishes are carried out.
The benefit to having a Personal Directive is that a family member may not need to make a court application for Guardianship.
A Power of Attorney is also a legal document where you can specify the person/s to be legally entitled to make financial decisions, such as bill payments, depositing or investing your money and/or selling property on your behalf in the event you become mentally incompetent in the future or it can be effected immediately, depending on your wishes.
The benefit to having an Enduring Power of Attorney is that a family member may not need to make a court application for Trusteeship.
For more information on advanced planning, please visit the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT) website.
Sage, in partnership with Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC), is assisting with the completion of Power of Attorney, Personal Directives, and Wills for low-resourced seniors who qualify for this service. An income assessment will be completed by the students to verify qualification for this free service. All documentation will be completed virtually by the students with the senior and reviewed and signed by a lawyer to ensure accuracy.
Please note, the Free Wills Clinic is not accepting referrals at this time. The Clinic will be on hold until January 2022. Please check back for more information.