Capacity: What Can Be Done Without It?

In a former post we discussed the requirement of capacity: what it meant and why it is important. This post is a follow-up on what a person can do if a loved one does not have capacity, but needs to give someone to the ability to act as Agent and Attorney for them. 

If not a Power of Attorney and Personal Care Directive than what?

In Alberta, if an adult is not capable of making financial decisions then a trustee is appointed. If the individual also requires someone to make non-financial, personal decisions for them, you must apply for a Guardianship as well. Both can be applied for at the same time. 

Who can be a Trustee and what can they do?

A trustee can be a friend, family member, company or a public trustee. They will have the ability to pay for bills, care and education of the individual. They will be able to manage investments and apply for financial benefits. They will not be able to make personal care decisions about medical treatments or where the adult resides. Those powers are granted to the Guardian. 

What do I need to do?

The first step will be to get a capacity assessment done. The assessor may require a fee. The next steps will be completing the application and background checks, submitting the application to court and waiting for a court decision. This process can take 3-6 months and filing with the court will cost $250 when you submit your application. When you submit your application, family and friends of the adult who needs support will be notified by mail that an application has been brought forward. They will have the option to support or oppose the application. 

If you don't believe the application will be opposed and is not time sensitive, you can become a trustee without a hearing; the judge will make a decision based on the information you submit. If the matter is time sensitive, may be opposed or the adult has a variety of financial assets, you may wish to proceed with a hearing where the application is discussed before a judge. 

After you apply, an officer from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will meet with the adult to get their thoughts about the application, prepare a report for the court and send you a copy of that report.  

*It is not always the case that a formal trustee is needed; if there is limited financial assets and the adult only needs help managing income from a government program or pension, an informal trusteeship may be better. 

If you are going through this process and have questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact Wendy King from AIM Nursing in our office!


Email: [email protected]


 **For more information please visit

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