South Australia’s Advance Care Directive (‘ACD’) allows you to appoint people to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions yourself. It also allows you to record your wishes and values and refusals of health care, so that the people you appoint will be guided in their decision making.

We recommend that you seek legal advice to ensure you are making decisions that best suit your circumstances and avoid mistakes that can easily be made and can lead to unintended consequences.

Values, Wishes, Refusals of Health Care

The ACD allows you to include statements as to your values and wishes, and refusals of health care.

Staring at a blank form can be a barrier to completing the document and perfectionism can take over. Conversely, you might appoint people and leave your wishes and values blank, leaving your Substitute Decision Makers to worry over what you might have wanted if they had to make decisions on your behalf.

Rather than starting from scratch, and worrying about what to include and what not to include, let us do the preparation for you. We will chat to you about your circumstances, ask questions, pose scenarios and explain the legal concepts simply and provide you with our professional advice. We can prepare your ACD with our carefully crafted clauses, and tailor them to suit your circumstances and preferences.

Who to appoint as your Substitute Decision Makers?

The answer to “who should I appoint to help me?” may not always be as simple as “your spouse” or “your children”.

If your spouse is the same age as you, you might want to consider an alternative, or someone else to act together with them.

If you have four children and are completing your ACD yourself, you might think it’s as simple as including all four children in the standard ACD form. However, if you do so, including one of the children in the space reserved for a “first preferred” Substitute Decision Maker, that person would then be the sole person the medical professionals would contact and would be responsible for alerting the others. If you wanted all four children to have an equal say and be contacted, completing the document this way would not achieve what you intended. Careful drafting is needed to avoid an unintended mistake.

By seeking legal advice to complete an Advance Care Directive, we will be able to ask you who you want to appoint, pose questions to you about their suitability and possible scenarios and suggest a solution that would be practical and in line with your wishes.

How to appoint your Substitute Decision Makers?

Jointly, Jointly and Severally – these can be difficult concepts to get your head around and to understand how they work in practice.

Again, using the example of appointing your four children – do you really want all four of them to act on your behalf together? What if they do not agree? What if one of them cannot be contacted?

It is so important to understand the options and what they mean in practice before you decide how your Substitute Decision Makers are to be appointed.

We will consider your circumstances and explain the options to you face-to-face in a way that is easy to understand and provide advice as to what we think would best suit your situation so you can make an informed decision.

If you would like assistance to prepare your Advance Care Directive, contact our Wills and Estates Team. We also offer packages if you choose to complete your Will, Power of Attorney and Advance Care Directive together. Contact us for more information.