Your power of attorney and personal directive documents are one of the best ways to protect yourself in the event of an unexpected emergency. But what exactly are these legal documents and why do you need them?
Power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone you trust the power to represent you and make decisions and act on your behalf. In Alberta, there are two types of power of attorney documents — enduring power of attorney and a personal directive.
In this article, we’ll break down the difference between the two types of POAs and walk you through the process of making your own power of attorney documents.
What Is An Enduring Power Of Attorney in Alberta?
In Alberta, enduring power of attorney gives someone you trust the power to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are medically incapable. Your POA is typically given the authority to perform any acts you normally would be able to do, if you were mentally capable. This includes anything related to property and finance, including paying your bills, maintaining your property, managing any investments and bank accounts, signing legal documents, handling business matters, or collecting any debts owed to you. One thing an attorney cannot do is make a will on your behalf.
Power of attorney is a big responsibility and should be given to someone who you can absolutely trust, such as a family member or close friend.
In this article, we are referring only to enduring powers of attorney, which continues past the point of mental capacity. However, there are powers of attorney that are limited — for example, when you are travelling. Willful does not offer non-continuing (or limited) power of attorney documents at this time.
What Are The Duties Of An Enduring Power Of Attorney In Alberta?
In Alberta, your enduring power of attorney can do anything in relation to property and finances that you could do, except make a will. This includes things like paying bills, collecting debt, applying for benefits, or selling your assets. The only thing your attorney for property cannot do, is make your will.
The Alberta Power of Attorney Act allows Albertans to create a Power of Attorney to appoint an enduring power of attorney. The Act also defines the requirement to create a POA, roles and responsibilities of the attorney, and how to revoke an enduring power of attorney.
Why Should Alberta Residents Make An Enduring POA?
In the event you are ever medically incapacitated, your enduring power of attorney is there to protect you. Incapacitation can be a result of anything from accidents to medical emergencies. Having a POA will allow your attorney to step in and conduct transactions and manage your financial affairs on your behalf while you are unable to.
It’s also a good idea to appoint an alternate power of attorney in the event that your attorney passes away or no longer has the mental capacity to act on your behalf.
Every Albertan over the age of 18 should have an enduring power of attorney. Your enduring POA ensures that your finances and property are in the hands of someone that you trust. Your POA can bring you additional peace of mind knowing that you won’t miss any bill payments, or have any property maintenance issues during this time.
You can think about your enduring power of attorney as a form of disability insurance. You hope it never comes into effect, but it will offer you protection in the event of an unexpected emergency!
Create your enduring power of attorney in less than 20 minutes. →
What Is A Personal Directive in Alberta?
Your personal directive is a document that appoints someone to make decisions related to your personal care, in the event you are unable to communicate yourself. This can include health care, housing, meals, and clothing. In Alberta, the person you appoint to this role in your personal directive is called an agent.
In addition to personal care, your agent is also responsible for communicating life support measures and other personal decisions outlined in your personal directive.
Typically you would choose someone who is familiar with your wishes and has good judgement as your agent. Most people choose a spouse, relative, or close friend who they trust.
What Are The Duties Of A Personal Directive Agent in Alberta?
The person you’ve chosen as your representative in your representation agreement can make decisions related to your health care, nutrition, shelter, clothing, hygiene and safety. They are also responsible for communicating your medical wishes, such as pain relief and life support, to doctors and medical professionals.
What Is A Living Will In Alberta?
A living will typically refers to a document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment or end of life. Alberta does not have living wills. You would document these wishes in your personal directive. In your personal directive, you can provide instructions for your representative on wishes such as medication for pain relief and life support.
A living will is different from a last will and testament in Alberta.
Why Should Alberta Residents Make A Personal Directive?
Many people think that only seniors and individuals considering end-of-life care need personal directives. However, you never know when you may experience a medical emergency that will require someone to make medical and personal decisions on your behalf. This doesn’t necessarily only include medical treatments, it can include other personal decisions such as where you want to live, who you’d like to live with, and any other non-financial decisions.
Every Albertan over the age of 18 should have a personal directive. Your personal directive will guarantee that any personal and medical decisions are made by someone you trust. It will also bring you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out in the event you are mentally incapacitated. Finally, documenting your decisions will help reduce future stress and burden for loved-ones, so they aren’t left making these difficult decisions on your behalf.
Create your personal directive today and assign your agent in less than 20 minutes. →
Do I Need A Lawyer To Make An Enduring POA And Personal Directive in Alberta?
No, you do not need a lawyer to make an enduring power of attorney or personal directive in Alberta. However, you do need to meet certain criteria for your documents to be legally-binding.
In Alberta, the requirements are as follows:
- You must be of sound mind and over the legal age of majority in Alberta
- The document must be printed and stored as a physical document (you currently cannot store your document digitally)
- You must sign your document in the presence of two valid witnesses and they must sign to confirm they have witnessed your signature.
- The signatures must be in wet ink and at the very end of the document (You cannot digitally sign and witness your estate planning documents at this time).
How Can I Make A Power of Attorney Or Personal Directive in Alberta?
There are many simple ways to make your enduring power of attorney and personal directive in Alberta.
Online Power of Attorney Platforms
Online platforms like Willful are a convenient and affordable option for anyone looking for personalized POA documents. Willful’s dynamic platform asks you all the important questions, so you can be certain your document reflects your wishes. Your final document will also include detailed instructions on the requirements for witnessing and notarizing to ensure that your document is legally valid in Alberta.
Fill-in-the-blank Power of Attorney Forms
You can often find these forms at an office supply store or post office. They are a good free or low cost option. However, they are typically very cookie-cutter and only account for one option of how your document can be created. You may find that these forms do not cover all your wishes. If you decide to use a form, it’s important to make sure it meets your wishes and is in compliance with the laws in Alberta.
Visiting a lawyer
If you have complex wishes or require legal advice, you may want to consider visiting a lawyer. A lawyer can build a document that can account for any complex requests you may have. However, a customized POA from a lawyer can be very expensive.
Once you’ve finalized your personal directive in Alberta, you can register your personal directive with the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to make it easy for healthcare providers to find who your agent is. This step is free! Keep in mind that you don’t need to register your document for it to be valid.
Frequently Asked Questions About POAs and Personal Directives in Alberta
Does A Power of Attorney Need To Be Notarized In Alberta?
There are no requirements for your enduring power of attorney or personal directive to be notarized in Alberta. If you’ve followed the guidelines for signing and witnessing, you have a legal power of attorney
Learn more about rules for notarizing power of attorney in other Canadian provinces.
How Long Does A Power Of Attorney Last?
An enduring power of attorney will last until one of these four things happen:
- You pass away
- You (the donor) revoke the POA
- A court revokes the POA
- Your attorney passes away, quits, or becomes mentally incapable of acting as your attorney
To revoke a POA, you must be of sound mental capacity and inform your attorney that you revoke the power of attorney given to them.
You may want to revoke a POA if your current attorney is no longer suitable, you find another person more qualified to be your attorney, or you no longer need the power of attorney.
Do I Need A Power of Attorney If I Have A Will?
Yes, it’s still important to have a power of attorney if you have a will. A POA handles financial and estate matters in the event you no longer have the capacity to make your own decisions, prior to your passing. Your will is the legal document which outlines your wishes after your passing.
Having both documents will ensure your wishes are carried out and your family members are taken care of in all scenarios.
Is a Power of Attorney the Same as an Executor?
A power of attorney is not the same as an executor. A power of attorney acts on your behalf while you are still alive, while an executor acts on behalf of your estate after you have passed away. However, the two roles can be carried out by the same person.
Learn about the differences between power of attorney and an executor in Canada.
Does Power of Attorney Override A Will?
A power of attorney cannot make a will on your behalf, change an existing will, or change a beneficiary on a life insurance plan. However, an attorney can make financial decisions that affect your estate.
In order to protect your estate and other finances covered in your will, you must limit the powers of your attorney in your POA and specify what they can and cannot do.
Appoint Your Power of Attorney Today
Don’t leave your personal affairs to chance. Every Albertan should have an enduring power of attorney and personal directive in place to assign someone to act on your behalf if you’re ever unable to. In as little as 20 minutes, Willful can help you create these documents online to give you peace of mind for years to come.
Ready to make your power of attorney documents? Get yours in less than 20 minutes →