Wealth Strategies: Do You Need a Personal Directive?

Milestone Wealth Management Ltd. - Jun 08, 2022

The term Estate Planning has come to encompass many aspects of financial planning. Most people are aware that they need a will, and most people probably have life insurance. A Personal Directive, however, is an often overlooked, but critical document that everyone should have.

A Personal Directive (or referred to as a Living Will in other provinces) is a legal document that appoints another person to make personal decisions for you in the event that you are deemed incapacitated. These could be decisions ranging from what types of medical treatment you will receive to where you will live.

This document is separate from, but similar to, a Power of Attorney, which is also a document that appoints someone to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. However, the Power of Attorney is limited to decisions of a financial or legal nature. Examples of these decisions would be paying bills or managing bank or investment accounts.

What does it mean to be incapacitated? The most common example would be dementia in an elderly person. The document usually requires one or more doctors to sign off on the declaration that the person is incapacitated. Other less common cases would be temporary incapacitation from a vehicle accident or health emergency.

Is it difficult or expensive to get a Personal Directive? At Milestone, we always recommend that our clients get the most accurate document, and as such we would recommend using a lawyer to get this done along with your other documents (Will and Power of Attorney). However, the government of Alberta actually does provide a free template on their website. Thus, not only is it very easy, it is also free, which allows all Albertans to have a Personal Directive.

Click here for a link to more information and here for the Personal Directive template.

A Personal Directive may be an overlooked document, but it is very important to have, easy to access and free to fill out. Therefore, all Albertans should definitely have a current Personal Directive.