Nova Scotia Living Will

Living Will | Nova Scotia

I am pleased to announce that the Power of Attorney Wizard can now be used to create a Personal Directive for individuals in Nova Scotia:

Now you can create your own Last Will and Testament using the Will-O-Matic Wizard, and your own Power of Attorney for Property / Finances and a Personal Directive using the Power of Attorney Wizard as well!

If you’d like to know more about Personal Directives in Nova Scotia…keep reading… This is the fourth blog on this topic. The first blog can be read here and the second blog can be read here and the third blog can be read here.

Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice, you should seek professional assistance.

What is the basic structure of a Personal Directive?

Introductory Clause

First, the Maker (the party making the Personal Directive) and the nature of the document (e.g. Personal Directive) are identified.  The date on which the Personal Directive is made is typically included here too.

Revoke Previous Personal Directives

Here, you can revoke any previous Personal Directives you have made (to ensure that you only have one Personal Directive).  If you are making multiple Personal Directives (e.g. each one with a specific Delegate to handle specific personal matters), then just be sure to indicate that you are not revoking those ones too!

Designating a Delegate

Next, you’ll need to identify your Delegate.  Typically, this will be a family member or close personal friend whom you trust.  Use their full legal name and even adding an identifier (e.g. my son, my spouse, etc.) may help.  You can also consider appointing more than one person as your Delegate.  This may be to share or divide responsibilities and to make sure there are sufficient checks and balances on decision-making; at the same time, it may overly complicate things and cause headache (diverging opinions coupled with joint decision-making authority may cause delays and turmoil!).  Keep in mind that section 3(5) of the Personal Directives Act says that a Personal Directive that appoints two or more Delegates MUST assign to each of the delegates authority with respect to different matters.  The Delegate does not need to live in Nova Scotia.    For whatever reason, in case the individual you appointed is incapable (e.g. vacation, sickness, death) or unwilling (e.g. through retirement) to act or continue to act as your Delegate at the time they need to, you should appoint a substitute Delegate.  Better be safe than sorry!

When Effective

A Personal Directive, or part of a Personal Directive, takes effect with respect to a personal matter (e.g. healthcare, housing, treatment, etc.) ONLY when the Maker lacks capacity with respect to that matter: section 9(1) of the Personal Directives Act.   So a Maker may maintain capacity with respect to certain personal matters, but lack capacity with respect to other personal matters.

Authority of Delegate

Pursuant to section 7 of the Personal Directives Act, a Delegate may not delegate decision-making authority under a Personal Directive unless the personal Directive authorizes such delegation.  Furthermore, you can either give your Delegate full and unrestricted power-making authority, or you can limit that authority to specific personal matters (e.g. health care, nutrition, hydration, shelter, residence, clothing, hygiene, safety, comfort, recreation, social activities, support services, etc.).

Specific Instructions

A Delegate must follow any clear instructions provided in the Personal Directive that are relevant to the personal decision to be made: section 15(2) of the Personal Directives Act.  If no such instructions are provided, then the Delegate must act according to what the delegate believes the wishes of the maker would be based on what the Delegate knows of the values and beliefs of the Maker and from any other written or oral instructions.  And if the Delegate does not know the wishes, values and beliefs of the Maker, make the personal-care     decision that the Delegate believes would be in the best interests of the Maker: sections 15 of the Personal Directives Act and section 6 of the Personal Directive Regulations.

Final Wishes

Recall that you may indicate your wishes concerning future personal-care decisions to be made on your behalf.  So with that said, what exactly do you want your final wishes to be concerning the medical attention you receive when the Personal Directive becomes effective and you are in a vegetative state?  For some people, they want to be removed from life support, receiving medication only to control pain and not resuscitated when they die.  For others, they want to be kept alive for as long as possible, given medication to control pain and then resuscitated in case they die.  You can even specify the type of treatment you would like to receive in certain circumstances.  For example, if you suffer from a mild stroke or mild dementia, you might want to receive and continue receiving all major treatments – such as CPR, life saving surgery or antibiotics.


Here, the Maker will acknowledge various things to help ensure that they have sufficient mental capacity to make the Personal Directive.


Use blue ink (to show it’s an original signature) instead of black.  Also, please read above concerning who can qualify as a witness.

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