What is an Advanced Care Directive?
The Advanced Care Directive (ACD) is a legally binding document that enables you to have medical and other decisions made where you are unable to make those decisions. An ACD is useful in the event of a serious stroke, coma, dementia, brain injury, mental health episode, or major accident leading to life-threatening injuries.
It allows you to appoint a ‘substitute decision maker’ (nominated person) who is able to make decisions on your behalf. This person can’t be your doctor, nurse or paid professional carer and they cannot make decisions about euthanasia, refusal of food, water or palliative medicine.
Specifically, an ACD allows you to pre-determine your future living situation and healthcare decisions, management of personal matters and when to implement end of life arrangements, such as ‘do not resuscitate’.
What an Advanced Care Directive cannot do is replace a Will or a Power of Attorney in regards to your legal and financial matters, so you would still need to ensure you have those documents prepared also.
What if I already have an Enduring Power of Guardianship or a Medical Power of Attorney?
An Advanced Care Directive form completed after 1 July 2014 will supersede an Enduring Power of Guardianship, a Medical Power of Attorney or an Anticipatory Direction.
If you haven’t completed a new Advanced Care Directive since 1 July 2014, then any of those existing documents will still be valid.
How do I make an Advanced Care Directive?
An Advanced Care Directive can be created by anyone who:
• Is at least 18 years of age and has the legal capacity to provide instructions;
• Understands what an Advanced Care Directive is; and
• Understands the consequences and effects of an Advanced Care Directive.
The directives you give in your ACD can be as broad or as specific as you like, but they should be clear enough to give your nominated person a strong understanding of your wishes. Your lawyer can give you some guidance on the standard wording used to assist you.
Once you have completed your ACD, be sure to tell your nominated person and next of kin about it and provide them with a copy. We suggest you keep a copy in your wallet or purse too.
If you are thinking about making an Advanced Care Directive, updating a previous version or looking at updating your Will or Power of Attorney, please contact one of our experienced family lawyers, Stefania Scarcella or Julia Adlem on 08 8410 9494. You matter to us.