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Advance Health Directives

Advance Health Directives

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At some point in the future you may be unable to make decisions about your health care, even temporarily.  For example, if you are unconscious or unable to communicate your wishes due to severe illness, dementia, stroke or mental illness. However if you have an Advance Health Directive in place, your family, friends and doctors are aware of your wishes in relation to those important decisions.

What is an Advance Health Directive?

An Advance Health Directive is a document that deals with your future health care. It enables you to:

  • give directions about your health care;
  • make your wishes known and give health professionals direction about the treatment you want;
  • appoint someone you trust to make decisions about health care on your behalf.

Who can make an Advance Health Directive?

To make an Advance Health Directive you must be 18 or older and have capacity to understand the nature and effect of the Advance Health Directive. This means you need to understand:

  • the nature and likely effects of each direction in your Advance Health Directive;
  • that a direction operates only when you don’t have capacity to make decisions about your health care covered by the direction;
  • that you may revoke a direction at any time you have capacity to make a decision for the matter covered by the direction;
  • that at any time you don’t have capacity to revoke a direction, you will be unable to effectively oversee the implementation of the direction.

You must also be able to make the Advance Health Directive freely and voluntarily and not due to pressure from someone else.

Before completing or signing an Advance Health Directive you will need to discuss same with your Doctor who will need to sign it in front of a witness.

When to make an Advance Health Directive

Now is the best time to make an Advance Health Directive, before any urgent health condition arises. It is particularly important to make one if:

  • you are being admitted to hospital;
  • your medical condition is likely to affect your ability to make decisions;
  • you have a chronic medical condition that could cause serious complications (e.g. diabetes, asthma and heart or kidney disease).

Preparing to make your Advance Health Directive

Before making your Advance Health Directive you should read the Form 10 – Advance Health Directive Explanatory Guide and:

  • think about your views, wishes and preferences for your future health care;
  • talk to your family and friends;
  • talk to your doctor as they will have access to your medial history and understand how illnesses may affect you and the possible treatment options and their effects;
  • consider appointing someone you trust to be your attorney and make decisions on your behalf.

Making an Advance Health Directive is an important part of preparing your estate plan, which may also include a Will and Power of Attorney. Estate planning is critical for individuals from all walks of life as it ensures appropriate arrangements are in place to take care of your loved ones should you unexpectedly pass away.

Estate planning may also involve maximising the value of your estate by introducing strategies to reduce taxes and other expenses. It may be as simple or complex as your needs dictate.

Should you be physically unable to attend our offices we are more than happy to arrange an in home visit to ensure your needs are met with minimal discomfort to you.

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