Legal Issues

This section offers a brief overview of some of the legal issues that are commonly faced by caregivers. It is important to note that the laws are different in each province and territory. It is recommended that before getting started you seek advice from a professional or someone you trust. Establishing a precedent when it comes to the care of a loved one is essential, especially with the legal aspects of finances and health care.

Most of the relevant legal documents can be created using ‘fill-in-the-blank’ forms that are made available on provincial websites. However, as earlier noted it is always best to get advice from a professional.

Some legal issues to consider are:

  • Joint ownership of bank accounts/home
  • Wills
  • Advance Directives

Other Resources:

Adapted from: Healthy Balance Program, Caregiver’s Handbook: A helping hand for friends and family giving care in Nova Scotia, 2007.

Personal Directives

An advance health care directive is a legal document that states the express wishes of an adult regarding the type of medical care they want to receive in case of a crisis. While this document can be completed at any time, individuals entering a residential care facility will need to complete an advance directive prior to admission. If this is not possible, then it will need to be completed as soon as possible after the person is settled in.

There are a variety of terms used throughout the country. Click your province for more information.

Newfoundland and Labrador

This link from the Department of Health and Community Services and Department of Justice outlines how to create an advanced health care directive.

Prince Edward Island

Health Care Directive form available from the Community Legal Information Association of PEI.

Nova Scotia

Covers general information about personal directives including frequently asked questions and sample forms


This information sheet explains mandates given in anticipation of incapacity: what they are, the forms they can take and the steps to follow.


The Ontario Seniors’ Secretariat offers a comprehensive resource titled ‘A Guide to Advance Care Planning’ and a Community Legal Education Ontario document answers questions on power of attorney for personal care.


Identifies the purpose of a Health Care Directive in Manitoba; how to make a Health Care Directive; with whom should the person talk to about these decisions; what is a proxy; who to choose as proxy; a change of mind about the directive; and the effect of a Health Care Directive.


The Government of Saskatchewan outlines the The Health Care Directives and Substitute Health Care Decision Makers Act and provides a summary of regulations associated with Health Care Directives in the province.


Provides the requirements for personal directives in Alberta, and includes personal directive forms, FAQ’s, publications and video presentation.

British Columbia

The government of British Colombia provides resources on Advanced Care Planning and making future health care decisions.