An Advance Health Directive, also known as a Living Will, allows you to give instructions about your future health care. It is a legal document which only comes into effect if you are unable to make decisions for yourself due to incapacity and further, will cease to operate if you regain capacity.
An Advance Health Directive:
- includes information that health professionals should know, including health conditions, allergies, and religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs that could affect your care; and
- sets out what medical treatment or health care you would want if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself.
You might, for example, decide that you wish to receive all available treatment to prolong life or conversely, that you wish to decline certain life-sustaining measures and medical treatment such as tube feeding or resuscitation.
Further, your Advance Health Directive can outline the quality of life that would be acceptable to you. For example, you might ask for life-sustaining measures to be withheld or withdrawn in the following circumstances:
- you have a terminal illness with no known cure or chance of recovery;
- you have severe or irreversible brain damage, and you have lost the ability to communicate; or
- you have a severe illness or injury that you may never recover from.
Importantly, it is a requirement of the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 that you sign your Advance Health Directive in the presence of a doctor. It is also recommended that you seek the advice of your general practitioner or medical specialist before entering into an Advice Health Directive.
Advance Health Directives are beneficial as they assist you in planning the medical treatment or health care you would wish to have if you cannot make decisions due to incapacity.
Without an Advance Health Directive in place there is no legal means to make your wishes known about when to provide or withhold life-sustaining measures. Therefore, if you do have specific wishes that relate to your medical treatment and health we recommend that you consider an Advance Health Directive.
If you decide to enter into an Advance Health Directive it is recommended that you review it every two years, or more often, should there be a significant change in the status of your health.
For all enquiries regarding an Advanced Health Directive, please contact us on (07) 5563 8970 to arrange a consultation with one of our Gold Coast solicitors.