Advance Care Directive2024-02-13T09:26:09+10:30

Advance Care Directives

Who would make decisions for you if you were unable to make decisions, or tell others of your decisions, due to being incapacitated?

That’s the purpose of an Advance Care Directive, to provide a legal document that outlines clear directions about your health care, end of life decisions, preferred living arrangements and other personal matters, and to outline who you want to make other decisions for you if you can’t make decisions for yourself.

It’s often referred to as a living Will because it outlines your wishes while you are ALIVE, as opposed to a legal Will which outlines you wishes for when you are NO LONGER LIVING.

Although you can prepare an Advance Care Directive yourself it is important that the document is legally binding, so, at Thomson & Associates we work with you to make sure that it is a valid directive and that your wishes are properly represented.

Advance Care Directive preparation by Thomson and Associates

An Advance Care Directive can be prepared on its own, or we recommend it is prepared at the same time as your Will. We even offer discounted packages if both documents are prepared at the same time. There are also discounts if you apply for an Advance Care Directive and/or a Will as a couple.

For more information about and Advance Care Directive see our Frequently Asked Questions below or download our Fact Sheet.

Click HERE to make an appointment with us to help you prepare your Advanced Care Directive.

Who can witness an Advance Care Directive?2021-05-19T10:03:54+09:30

This must be someone who is independent of you.  They cannot be a beneficiary in your will, a Substitute Decision-Maker named in the document, or a paid professional carer.  The witness must be listed as an authorised witness such as a registered professional, public servant with more than five years’ service, lawyer, Justice of the Peace or Minister of Religion. A complete list of authorised witnesses can be accessed at

If we can’t get all signatories together at one time in the one place, how can we finalise the Advanced Care Directive?2021-05-05T12:05:29+09:30

You will need to ensure the signatures of the Substitute Decision-Maker(s) are completed before the Advance Care Directive can be witnessed and signed by you.

How many substitute decision makers can you appoint?2021-05-19T10:06:35+09:30

You can appoint one or several Substitute Decision-Makers.  You can then also outline whether they are to make decisions jointly or separately.

Do I need permission from my Substitute Decision-Maker to be included?2021-05-19T10:06:08+09:30

Yes.  A Substitute Decision-Maker must certify, by completing and signing the relevant part of the advance care directive form, that he or she accepts the appointment and has read and understands the guidelines for substitute decision-makers.

What’s the difference between a Will and an Advance Care Directive?2021-05-05T12:03:50+09:30

One deals with your life before death and the other your wishes after death.  Essentially an Advance Care Directive is a legal form that allows people over the age of 18 years to: write down their wishes, preferences and instructions for future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters and/or appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers to make these decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so themselves while they are still alive.  A Will outlines what you intend for your assets and your children following your death.

Can I change my Advance Care Directive?2021-05-05T12:03:23+09:30

The only way you can change your Advance Care Directive once it is finalised is to cancel your original directive and have a new document drafted and signed.

Do I need an Advance Care Directive if I already have Enduring Power of Guardianship, a Medical Power of Attorney or an Anticipatory Direction?2021-05-19T10:07:07+09:30

No.  These documents are still legally effective unless you complete an Advance Care Directive Form.

Does the Substitute Decision-Maker have to agree to the Advance Care Directive?2021-05-05T12:02:26+09:30

Ideally your Substitute Decision-Maker is in full agreement with the content of your Advance Care Directive and your wishes.  They will be required to sign and accept the role and the responsibilities of ensuring your wishes are carried out.

Who can be a Substitute Decision-Maker? 2021-05-19T10:05:15+09:30

Generally speaking anyone can be appointed as a Substitute Decision-Maker, but you need to be sure that they will have the mental strength to be able to carry through your wishes.  Those who CANNOT be appointed to the role include your doctor, nurse or paid professional carer.  Family members and friends who are paid Carers’ Allowance are able to be named as Substitute Decision-Makers.

Can a member of the family ignore an Advance Care Directive?2021-05-19T10:04:50+09:30

No.  An Advance Care Directive is a legally binding document.  If a family member is appointed as a Substitute Decision-Maker they must also follow the instructions in the Advance Care Directive.  The exceptions are that the Substitute Decision-Maker cannot:

  • Make a decision which would be illegal, such as requesting voluntary euthanasia.
  • Refuse food and water to be given to them by mouth.
  • Refuse medicine for pain or distress (for example palliative care).
  • Make legal or financial decisions (unless you have also been appointed as an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters).
Can a doctor override an advance care directive?2021-05-19T10:04:24+09:30

No.  Health practitioners must comply with a binding provision in an Advance Care Directive if there is no Substitute Decision-Maker appointed, or no time to contact one.  A Substitute Decision-Maker must also follow the Advance Care Directive instructions as they must stand in the person’s shoes and make a decision as if they were the person referred to in the Advance Care Directive.

Do I need a lawyer to prepare an ACD, or can I do it myself?2021-05-19T10:02:50+09:30

You do not need to hire a lawyer to draft an Advance Care Directive, but the document will require your signature along with that of a witness and the signatures of your Substitute Decision-Maker (s).  We recommend you consult a lawyer to ensure your document is legally binding and that your wishes have been properly represented.  The lawyer can also act as the independent witness to the document.  A lawyer can assess your capacity to enter into an Advance Care Directive and ensure it is properly witnessed.   They can also certify copies of the ACD to be provided to the Substituted Decision Makers and any health care providers.

What if I become incapacitated and I don’t have an Advance Care Directive?2021-05-19T10:02:25+09:30

Decisions about your care and living arrangements will be made by others without a legal framework or a clear indication of your personal wishes.  This could mean you are kept on life support when you wish not to be.  You could be placed into a nursing home away from family and friends.  You may not receive the rehabilitation or other opportunities you would have preferred to receive.  You may be sent to a facility or living arrangement which you would not have chosen.

Is an ACD the same as a living Will?2021-05-05T11:58:57+09:30

Yes.  An Advance Care Directive is often referred to as a living Will.

What is an advance care directive?2021-05-19T10:01:25+09:30

The Advance Care Directive allows you to set out your clear directions about your future health care, end of life decisions, preferred living arrangements and other personal matters.  The document allows you to not only write down your wishes, but to also appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers to make the decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so in the future.

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