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The Difference Between a Personal Directive and Power of Attorney

Understanding What You Need to Plan Your Estate

The greatest gift you can give the people you love is a plan for your estate that dictates whom you trust to make decisions about your life, health care, and finances on your behalf. Suppose you have thought about creating a declaration of your final wishes. In that case, it is important to understand how a personal directive differs from a power of attorney and how these documents will affect your estate planning.

In this blog post, we will detail how a personal directive differs from a general power of attorney and how these legal documents can ensure your financial affairs, health care, and living arrangements align with your wishes.

Personal Directive vs. Power of Attorney

No one likes to think about it, but you never know when you might experience a medical emergency that leaves you mentally incapable of making your own decisions. At Brick & Mortar Law, we encourage everyone over 18 to establish a personal directive and power of attorney to prepare for the unexpected.

What is a Personal Directive?

A personal directive is a legal document that names the person or people you trust to make personal decisions for you if you become mentally incapacitated, like an attorney for personal care.

What is the Function of a Personal Directive?

A personal directive acts as a written instruction that essentially speaks for you and names the person or people allowed to carry out your wishes when you cannot. When you name someone in your personal directive, you give them the legal right to make decisions about the things that would affect your quality of life, including:

● Medical treatments you would or would not want;

● Where will you live, and whom will you live with;

● Who will care for your children until they turn 18; and

● Any other personal or legal matters

Think of your personal directive as a declaration of how you would like to live your life if you were unable to speak for yourself. The person or people you choose to carry out your wishes on your behalf should be those who know you well enough to consider how you would and would not want your life to look if you could not make decisions on your own.

Who Needs a Personal Directive?

Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to write a personal directive. This legal document is a proactive measure to protect you if you cannot care for yourself. For example, if you were to suffer a traumatic brain injury that affected your cognitive abilities, a doctor would perform a capacity assessment to make an official declaration of incapacity.

Once your personal directive is enacted, only those you named in the document will have the authority to make decisions for your personal affairs. You can only take back the power to make your own personal and legal decisions if you perform another capacity assessment and receive a declaration of regained capacity.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document that names the person to whom you would give the authority to make financial decisions for you if you are not mentally capable of doing so.

What is the Role of a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney document names the person whom you would trust most to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Often referred to as an enduring power of attorney, or durable power of attorney, this form is created to ensure someone you trust is responsible for making financial decisions on your behalf, including:

● General banking and day-to-day transactions;

● Signing cheques;

● Buying or selling real estate; and

● Borrowing money

Whomever you give continuing power of attorney to cannot craft or change your will, name or change beneficiaries or delegate their power of attorney duties to someone else. This type of power only allows your chosen person to manage your finances, not to use them for their own affairs. A power of attorney can be revoked if you regain mental capacity.

Who Needs a Power of Attorney?

When you turn 18, you should consider drafting a power of attorney to protect your financial affairs in case you end up in a position where you cannot make your own decisions. Your power of attorney should be someone you trust to make decisions about your finances with your best interests at heart.

Where to Get Trusted Legal Advice in Sherwood Park, Alberta

When you are ready to write a personal directive or power of attorney document to keep your personal and financial affairs in good hands, get in touch with our legal team at Brick & Mortar Law. We would be happy to help draft and execute these documents for your peace of mind no matter what life throws your way.

Not Legal Advice

Lastly, this blog post is provided solely for legal information and does not constitute legal advice. As always, we strongly recommend that you hire a lawyer of your choosing to ensure that your estate planning needs are properly met. Every individual and situation is unique and so to is their legal needs.


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