An Advance Care Directive is similar to an Enduring Power of Attorney; it only operates whilst you are still living. It is differentiated from an Enduring Power of Attorney in that it governs medical and lifestyle decisions (as opposed to financial decisions).
The person appointed to make decisions on your behalf (the Substitute Decision-Maker) can only make decisions if you are incapable of making decisions yourself. In the course of a lifetime it is quite likely that, at some point, a person will not be able to make decisions about their welfare. This may be because he/she has;
- Had a serious accident;
- Suffered a stroke;
- Developed dementia; or
- Is unconscious or in a coma.
In that situation the Substitute Decision-Maker can rely on the directions detailed in the Advance Care Directive and communicate those directions to the treating doctors.
Without an Advance Care Directive in place close friends or family members may make decisions on your behalf but there may be arguments over your intentions and who should make those decisions. By having a well-drafted Advance Care Directive in place;
- You decide who will make decisions for you if you are unable;
- You determine whether the people you appoint are to act separately or jointly;
- You direct what medical treatment you wish to receive and what medical treatment you refuse;
- You can specify your end of life wishes; and
- You can provide details of your preferred living arrangements.
An Advance Care Directive is commonly utilised to make binding refusals of certain health care such as a refusal of life-prolonging treatment in the event that a person is in a vegetative state and has no reasonable prospect of recovery. In these circumstances it is comforting for the family members to know that their loved one’s wishes have been carried out and they have not been forced into an agonising decision which may or may not have accorded with their loved one’s wishes.
Our Legal team is experienced in preparing Advance Care Directives and would be happy to assist you with this task.