Fact Sheet for Private Guardians
What is the Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act?
The Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act (AGTA) replaces the Dependent Adults Act (DAA), which was written approximately 30 years ago. The AGTA was proclaimed on October 30, 2009.
This legislation gives a person the legal authority and responsibility to make decisions on behalf of an adult who is unable to make decisions on their own.
More than 4,300 Albertans helped shape the AGTA and the Personal Directive Act. You may recall receiving a survey in the mail in 2005. It was sent to all guardians and trustees, asking what kind of decision-making support they would like if they ever became less able to make their own decisions. We also held public meetings and focus groups throughout the province to ask what should be in new legislation with guardians, trustees, dependent adults, health care professionals, legal professionals and many others. Similar legislation in other parts of the country and the world were also reviewed.
Is there anything I need to do now?
The AGTA allows more flexibility for when an order must be reviewed by the Court. In the past, most orders were reviewed every six years. Under the AGTA, the Court has greater discretion to shorten or extend review dates, and the review process itself is based on more comprehensive information. For example, the person under a guardianship order is interviewed as part of the Court review.
Is there more information available?
- A toll-free help line is now available to provide information on programs and services through the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). You can reach us Monday to Friday, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 1-877-427-4525.
- Additional training and support for guardians is also available. In January, 2008, all guardians were sent an information package that included a fact sheet on their role as guardian, along with a presentation on CD. Additional resources for guardians and represented adults have also been developed. If you would like more information or another copy of the CD, please call toll-free 1-877-427-4525.
- Conflict resolution services are available to help guardians navigate difficult situations and disputes. For more information, please call toll-free 1-877-427-4525.
What changes were made on October 30, 2009?
If you are a guardian, that does not change under the AGTA. However, the AGTA contains changes that include more of a balance between autonomy and protection for the represented adult (previously referred to as the dependent adult) and recognition of the important support role that family and friends play.
Highlights of the changes include:
- The application process for Guardianship Orders was streamlined. The OPG helps you complete the necessary paperwork, and you will have to appear in Court less frequently.
- You are able to submit a claim to the trustee for related expenses, such as travel and long distance phone calls.
- If a third party does not comply with your decision as a guardian, you can apply to the Court to have the decision enforced, if it is in the best interest of the represented adult.
- Instead of a mandatory review of your Guardianship Order every six years, the Court has established a timeline tailored to the needs of the represented adult and their likelihood of regained capacity.
- You are able to make an application for guardianship of an individual who is 17-years old, to take effect when they turn 18.
- The Court has better information upon which to base their decisions for guardianship. The proposed represented or assisted adult is interviewed by the Office of the Public Guardian and has the opportunity to appear in Court if they object to application. An applicant must submit a plan for how they intend to manage the adult?s personal affairs.
- The assessment process to evaluate an adult?s capacity has been standardized throughout the province. It has also been expanded to include a cognitive and functional assessment. The assessment targets the kinds of decisions the adult needs to make and the level of assistance required. Not all adults need full guardianship; there is a range of other options.
- Although most people are well represented by their guardians, the OPG has the authority to investigate written complaints. The OPG is able to intervene quickly in cases where the adult is at serious risk of harm physically or mentally.
What options for decision-making support are available under the AGTA?
The AGTA offers a range of options to support adults who need help making personal decisions, depending on their level of capacity. The goal is to allow Albertans to be as independent as possible, for as long as possible.
- Supported Decision-Making Authorization: Albertans who are capable of making personal decisions but need some assistance can designate a family member or friend to help them. A Supported Decision-Making Authorization gives the family member or friend legal access to the adult?s relevant personal information. This option could benefit many people with disabilities.
- Co-decision Making Order: Albertans who have a significant impairment but can still make decisions with help, could benefit from a Co-decision Making Order. It allows them to make joint decisions with a named family member or friend and is less intrusive than guardianship. For example, a husband or wife could help their spouse who has early stage dementia to make personal decisions. As the disease progresses, they would then make a guardianship application.
- Temporary Guardianship Order: Albertans who urgently require a guardian can have one appointed for them, without a capacity assessment and without notifying family, but the order is only good for 90 days. This is appropriate in situations where the adult is in imminent danger of death or serious harm if someone does not provide assistance.
- Guardianship Order: This option is still available for adults who are incapable. However, applicants now receive more information and support, and the application process is streamlined. The Court receives comprehensive information upon which to base decisions, including the adult?s views and a more thorough capacity assessment report. Applicants are better screened. The Court considers whether less intrusive options would meet the adult?s needs.
- Specific Decision-Making Authorization: A health care provider can select a close relative or the Public Guardian to make specific decisions on behalf of an adult who becomes temporarily or unexpectedly incapable (e.g., through an accident or a stroke) and does not have a guardian or an agent named in a Personal Directive. The decisions are restricted to health care and temporary residential care.
Where can I find more information?
Please contact the Office of the Public Guardian at 1-877-427-4525.