This page gives general legal information.  It is not intended to replace legal advice from a lawyer.  If you need legal advice, it is a good idea to talk with either a lawyer in private practice, or Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

Sometimes an adult is not able to make important decisions about their health, personal care or spending. We say that they do not have capacity to make important decisions. This can be because of a brain injury, a disability, or mental health problems, or for other reasons.

People who cannot make important decisions on their own might need another adult to make those decisions for them.  In those cases a family member or other caring person can apply to court to ask to be the adult's representative decision-maker or representative.

A representative may have legal responsibilities and duties related to part or all of the adult's finances, personal and health care.  A representative may make only the decisions the adult is not able to make on their own.

The Adult Capacity and Decision-making Act gives the court the power to appoint a representative for an adult who cannot make their own important decisions. This law replaces Nova Scotia’s Incompetent Persons Act, which allowed the court to appoint a guardian for an adult. A guardian made all decisions for the adult whether the adult had the ability to decide a matter or not.

Download this pdf Adult Capacity and Decision-making information (pdf) (657 KB)

 Get more information about the Adult Capacity and Decision-making Act, and about being a representative decision-maker for an adult at


Reviewed December 28 2017