Estate Documents: Living Wills

personal directive; living will; wills and estates; probate; duarianship; trusteeship; dependent adult


A living will is also sometimes referred to as a personal directive or advance health care directive. These are documents that allow for another person to make medical choices regarding your person if you lose the ability to make choices for yourself though mental incapacity. People generally lose mental capacity though injury, health conditions or old age. The living wills lawyers at Kahane Law Office in Calgary, Alberta are able to help with explaining, drafting and completing your living will under Alberta Law.

What Decisions To Living Wills Deal With

The mandate of this health related directive is to allow someone to make choices for you if you cannot. These choices involve anything to do with your person. For instance, a living will can specify that someone can make decisions for you, or it can also be very specific so that there are no doubts as to your wishes. Specifically, a living will allows for the selecting of:

  • Which medications or treatments that you will have;
  • Which medications or treatments that are to be withheld in specific situations;
  • Where you will live;
  • What type of community that you will live in;
  • Your activities, recreation and social situation.

A living will does not deal with your finances or any of your material possessions.

Who Should You Appoint In Your Living Will

It is important to select someone that you trust and who can follow your choices if you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself. Most people will pick a family member. Many people will pick a close friend. There is no automatic right of a spouse or any other individual to make these choices for you. Some of the direction in a living will may be contrary to what some family member will be able to respect. For instance, many parents are not able to accept the withdrawal or withholding of medical treatments in certain circumstances. It is important that the person you pick can address your needs.

When Does It Take Effect?

Your directive will takes effect once the triggering mechanism drafted into the document occurs. Usually it is the loss of capacity that triggers a living will. Loss of capacity may be assessed by your regular physician. Often people allow for two medical doctors confirmation that you have lost capacity to be the triggering mechanism. These are confirmed in a mental assessment letter after the doctor performs a capacity assessment.

What Happens If You Do Not Have This Legal Document?

If you do not have a living will in place, and you lose mental capacity, someone will need to apply for a guardianship order from the courts in Alberta. In this case, conflicting people may apply. There is also the chance that the person who is successful in court becoming your guardian, would make the same choices that you would prefer. Adding your preferences to your living will avoids this issue.

How Expensive Is A Living Will?

A living will is not an expensive document to have drawn up for you with a lawyer. These are prepared in our office for a flat rate. The cost is even less when it is drafted together with a will and enduring power of attorney.

Help Drafting A Living Will

If you, or a loved one, want to make sure that their health care wishes are followed, we are happy to help. Our Living will lawyers are able to meet with you and have your living will drafted relatively quickly. You can reach us at 403-225-8810 in Calgary, or contact us by email here to learn more today.