Over the past few years, the law has changed in Alberta to give
Albertans a better opportunity to make financial and personal
health decisions for themselves in advance of any future medical
problem that may prevent them from making those decisions. The
Powers of Attorney Act allows you to appoint someone to
make financial decisions on your behalf. The Personal
Directives Act allows you to name someone who can make
decisions on your behalf for personal matters such as health care,
including the ability to make specific health care decisions in
contemplation of future medical disability.
Before the Powers of Attorney Act and the Personal
Directives Act became law, the Dependant Adults Act
offered the only solution to family members who were faced with the
mental or physical decline of their loved ones. Today, if you do
not appoint an Attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act
or an agent under the Personal Directives Act, your
friends or family members may be required to make an application
under the Dependent Adults Act to be appointed your
trustee and guardian in order to make decisions on your behalf.
If you become mentally unable to look after your finances, and
you have not signed an Enduring Power of Attorney, someone, usually
your closest relative, must make an application to be appointed
your "trustee" under the Dependent Adults Act.
Once appointed trustee, that person must keep careful track of all
amounts received and spent on your behalf. The trustee must be
prepared to appear before the Court of Queen's Bench at
intervals set by the Court (every two, four, six, or twelve years
depending on the order of the Court) to "pass the
accounts". The trustee must also attend before the Court every
six years so that the Court can review the Order appointing that
person as trustee and determine if the Order is still
Health Care Decisions
Similarly, if you become mentally unable to make decisions
regarding personal matters, including health care, and you have not
signed a Personal Directive, someone, again usually your closest
relative, must make an application to be appointed as your
"guardian" under the Dependent Adults Act.
However, even if a person is appointed as guardian, he or she may
not have the same extent of authority to make medical decisions as
he or she would have had under a Personal Directive. The guardian
will also have to appear before the Court every six years so the
Court can review the Order appointing that person as guardian to
determine if the Order is still appropriate.
There are considerably more costs and added effort required to
make an application to be appointed trustee and guardian under the
Dependent Adults Act. Appointing an Attorney under an
Enduring Power of Attorney and an agent under a Personal Directive
allows you to take control of your future financial and personal
care. The new legislation encourages people to be in control of
their own care.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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