What is an advance care directive?

1 Jun 2021

An advance care directive is a written statement of your wishes for your future health care.

It comes into effect only if you are incapable of making health care decisions for yourself or you are unable to communicate your health care wishes.

Why make an advance care directive?

You may have already appointed an Enduring Guardian to make decisions about your personal care and to give formal consent to medical treatment if you lose capacity to make those decisions. However, it is unlikely that such an appointment adequately sets out your wishes that carers, family, health professionals, hospitals and aged care facilities should follow in the event of major health issues.

What does an advance care directive cover?

The purpose of an advance care directive is to give carers, family, health professionals, hospitals and aged care homes clear guidelines to follow in the event of major health issues. For example, the direction could be that life-sustaining measures are to be withheld if you have a terminal illness with no known cure or prospect of recovery.

Who can make an advance care directive?

Anyone who is over 18 years of age and has capacity can make an advance care directive.

Can I make changes to my advance care directive?

You are free to change or revoke your advance care directive at any time while you remain mentally capable of doing so. We recommend you review your directive every two years or if there is a significant change in your health or in the circumstances of those you have appointed.

What is “Capacity”?

There is no single legal definition of capacity in New South Wales. However, generally it is expected that someone wanting to give an advance care directive should be able to:

  • Understand the facts involved in the decision-making and the main choices available;
  • Weigh up the consequences of those choices and understand how the consequences affect them; and
  • Communicate their decisions.

Before completing an advance care directive, you should consider what medical treatment you would want to receive if you became seriously ill. We recommend that you consult your doctor before completing the advance care directive and discuss any medical issues that you may not be clear about and the effect of the directions you are providing.

If you would like more information on Estate Planning, please use this link to download our free Estate Planning eGuide which is on our website. For any advice in relation to Advance Care Directive please phone our Estate Planning Division on 9525 8688 or email wmd@wmdlaw.com.au for more information and assistance.




Greg Dickson
B.Juris. LL.M.
CEO & Accredited Specialist in Family / De Facto Law
Telephone: 9525 8688
Facsimile: 9526 2608
Email: greg@wmdlaw.com.au



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