The Personal Directive, or PD for short is an integral part of your estate plan. The PD, allows you (the Maker) to name another person (or persons), like a family member or friend as your Health Care Agent(s) (the Agent). The Agent makes important health care decisions for the Maker, at the time where the Maker does not have the mental capacity to do so. One of the main reasons clients tell me they want a PD is because they have very strong beliefs around the use of life support. People in Medicine Hat who have a PD prepared, want to ensure their wishes in regards to end of life care will be respected and followed. PD’s also provide very broad powers in dealing with general personal matters, including where a person will live, who they will associate with, and what activities will they participate in.
If you are admitted to the hospital in Medicine Hat or elsewhere in Alberta for a serious health matter or you are moving into a care assisted residence, you will typically be asked whether or not you have a PD.
If you are admitted to hospital and unconscious or unable to communicate, the hospital could have some difficulties in finding out whether you have PD and how to locate it. If you live in a different city than your Agent, or if an accident occurred while your Agent or your family was away, it could be even more difficult to locate the PD.
Back on June 30, 2008, the Alberta government passed a regulation to the Personal Directives Act to help address the problem. The regulation allowed for the establishment of a PD Registry in Alberta. While the PD document is not registered, certain information about the PD is: the name and contact information of the Maker and the Agent(s), as well as the date it was prepared.
Through the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”), the government manages the registration process and the information. Both new and existing PD’s can be registered and the process is completely voluntary. A Maker and/or their Agent can register the PD online. While your lawyer can assist you in the initial registration process, the Maker and/or Agent will need to complete the final registration step.
The registry will not be accessible by the general public. The information managed by the OPG is only be accessed by doctors and hospitals.
The main benefit of the registration process is to confirm a PD exists and from whom the medical personnel should be taking instructions on health related matters.
Presently the OPG is collecting the patient information regarding the PD. Based on my discussions with the OPG, it is awaiting for hospitals to sign on. Even though the system is not operational, I suggest the system will be of benefit to Albertans who wish to have their beliefs on end of life care respected, and I recommend people continue to register their PD so the information can be transferred to the hospitals in the future.
If you want more information about the registry you should contact your lawyer and the registry website located at http://humanservices.alberta.ca/guardianship-trusteeship/opg-personal-directives-registry.html.