What a Personal Care Directive Can and Cannot Achieve

What a Personal Care Directive Can and Cannot Achieve

A personal care directive  (PCD) is a legal document that enables you to indicate how, why, and by whom your personal care decisions may be made in the event that you cannot make them on your own. In Alberta, your PCD is placed in your Green Sleeve, an advanced care planning document that conveys your wishes regarding medical, resuscitation, and comfort care to your doctors and other medical support staff.

Because a personal care directive is an estate planning document, there is some confusion over the scope of their abilities. To clarify matters, we are indicating below what a PCD can and cannot do, so you can expand the scope of your estate plan accordingly.

What a Personal Care Directive CAN Do

Your PCD allows you to provide healthcare directions to a chosen agent in the event that you become too physically or mentally incapacitated to instruct the medical support team yourself. You may specify steps like the following:

  • Whether or not you want your life prolonged by artificial means if you are in a coma or ongoing vegetative state
  • Any steps you want taken to prolong your life if there is hope of future recovery

The person you designate as your agent will have the authority and responsibility to decide where you live (e.g. if you require nursing home care), what healthcare you will receive, and even who may visit you if you are hospitalized or placed in a nursing home. Therefore, your chosen representative should be someone you trust to make these decisions in accordance with your wishes.

What a Personal Care Directive CANNOT Do

A PCD deals strictly with healthcare arrangements. Your agent cannot manage your property or finances on your behalf. In other words, they do not have the authority to sell your house, pay your bills, or complete important financial tasks. These duties are typically carried out by a power of attorney, of which there are two types in Alberta.


  • Enduring power of attorney: Also known as springing or immediate power of attorney, this arrangement comes into effect the moment a certain event takes places, such as your illness or incapacitation.
  • Immediate power of attorney: This arrangement takes effect once the document is signed and remains in effect until you rescind it or pass away.


A personal care directive ensures that your healthcare directions are honoured at all times and spare your family the time, expense, and stress of making a court application on your behalf. To be legally binding, it must be in writing, dated, and signed by you in the presence of a witness who is not your spouse / adult interdependent partner, your chosen agent, or your agent’s spouse / adult interdependent partner. Alberta legislation also requires that if you prepared a PCB prior to December 1, 1997, it must be remade.

At Estate Connection, our goal is to make personal care directive preparation both straightforward and stress-free. Leave your loved one solutions, not problems.  Contact us today to learn more about how you can fully plan for your future care.

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Written by Estate Connection

Estate Connection

At Estate Connection, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver exceptional legal services with a personalized approach to every case. Our law firm is built on a foundation of strong personal connections between our lawyers, staff, and valued clients. From day one we have endeavoured to keep the human element at the forefront of our practice. Our story begins with Stacy Maurier, our founding lawyer. Following her own personal experiences with estate conflicts, she was inspired from a young age to pursue a career in estate law. From her perspective, a person’s legacy is far more important than the material possessions they leave behind. With the right lawyer, she believes estate law can curtail arguments among relatives, save money and time, keep family traditions alive, and make sure a person’s memory is celebrated according to their wishes.