How specific can I be when leaving directions in a Personal Directive?
That’s entirely up to you – you can be as specific as you wish. Some people have clear instructions regarding what they do or do not want to be done in these situations, but these types of medical decisions are highly personal.

Can I request Euthanasia in a Personal Directive?
The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled to allow the practice of Euthanasia in principle, but we are still waiting for the federal government to draft legislation to govern the implementation of this practice. So the short answer is yes, you may include this instruction, but depending on when this legislation gets passed, your instruction may not be immediately enforceable.

I wish to donate my organs. Should I state this in my Personal Directive?
Yes. Your Personal Directive is the ideal place to include this type of instruction, and to specify which, if any, of your organs you wish to donate.

Can I write a Personal Directive myself?
We recommend obtaining advice and assistance from your lawyer and your doctor when making a Personal Directive, to ensure that the document is legal, fully enforceable, and properly reflects your personal decisions regarding medical care and treatment.

My Personal Directive is 10 years old. Do I need a new one?
Personal legal documents like a Will, Power of Attorney, and Personal Directive should be reviewed every few years to ensure your wishes and instructions are current and applicable. Particularly in the case of a Personal Directive, medicine is always evolving, and you want to ensure that you haven’t specifically excluded procedures that are no longer risky, for example.

What do I do with my Personal Directive after it is signed?
We recommend keeping your Personal Directive with your Will and other important documents, but remember that a Personal Directive is different from these other documents in that it may need to be carried out quickly – often in emergency situations. Thus, it may be advisable to carry a card in your wallet that informs hospital personnel that you have a Personal Directive in place – also listing individuals to contact in this event.

You should also tell your family, the Agent appointed in your Personal Directive, and your doctor about your medical instructions, as well as where they can find your Personal Directive if they need to.

I want to make a Personal Directive but my family doesn’t want to talk about it. How can I be sure they will follow my instructions?
This is never easy to answer, since emotions often run high when people plan for end of life circumstances. If you feel that your immediate family members find it difficult to deal with your decision, or outright refuse to discuss the matter, it may be better to appoint someone from outside your family, like a friend or trusted colleague, to act as your Agent. It may help to remind your family that having a Personal Directive is not only responsible, but provides peace of mind and comfort in those stressful moments – to help them care for you in a way that you desire.

Can I just tell my family my wishes?
No. If you do not write your specific wishes down in a properly-executed Personal Directive, there is no legal obligation for anyone to follow these wishes based only on the verbal request of your loved ones in that event.


Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions that aren’t answered on our site, or to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to chat with you about any of your legal needs.