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Most people choose to stay positive and try not to think about life’s ‘what ifs’, but the reality is life does have its ups and downs. There is no time like the present to plan and be prepared for your future if you are unable to make a medical or personal decision for yourself.
As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the perfect time to champion your own health and wellbeing for the future of yourself and your loved ones.
The appointment of a medical decision-maker may not be at the forefront of your mind. However, in our experience, an orderly approach to medical responsibility and care see families and individuals guided in times of uncertainty and hardship. For others, appointing a medical decision-maker represents a proactive step to ensure peace of mind for future, uncertain possibilities.
What is a medical decision maker?
A medical decision-maker is appointed through a document executed on behalf of someone who needs medical decisions made for them. They are a trustworthy individual of the appointor’s choice who will make medical decisions on their behalf. It is important to remember that such a document is not a Will and will not remain in force once the appointor is deceased.
The person you choose as your medical decision-maker will be consulted if it is determined that you do not have the capacity to make important medical decisions yourself. This could be due to neurological disabilities, intellectual disability, mental illnesses, physical disability or even unconsciousness.
Each state and territory is governed by different legislation, which is why Your Wills use different names for a medical decision-maker in each state and territory. You will find brief explanations of the terminology and details of the documents for each state and territory below.
Should I take this step?
The reasons for appointing a medical representative vary greatly, and there is no single directive for deciding when to appoint a medical decision-maker.
Several factors may inform and guide this choice, including situations where the person appointing a medical decision-maker:
- has a chronic illness or injury;
- is elderly
- has declining health
- has a decided preference for who they want to make their medical decisions on their behalf
- engages in dangerous recreational activities with a greater risk of injury and hospitalisation.
Each person needs to consider their individual circumstances when deciding whether a medical decision-maker is appropriate for them. However, the decision to appoint a medical representative ensures everyone, including younger people, can make proactive and informed decisions about the future of their health care.
In the absence of a medical directive or appointment of a representative, the law automatically appoints an individual to make any medical decisions required for you. We are here to ensure that in times of illness or misadventure, the choice of the individual that will make your medical decisions is already clearly stated.
Appointing a medical representative makes sure that in times of illness or misadventure, the individual making your medical decisions is someone you trust implicitly. This also ensures no one needs to worry about who should make these decisions on your behalf. In addition, your medical representative can be registered on My Health Record, a national online scheme that contains all your past medical history and which is accessible even when travelling interstate or internationally. You can
access previous medical records and note who is your decision-maker at any time.
New South Wales
In NSW, this individual is an Enduring Guardian and can make decisions regarding your health and medical needs. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian if you are over 18 and have the capacity to make this decision by executing a document known as an Enduring Power of Guardianship. An Enduring Power of Guardianship document is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.
In Tasmania, this individual is an Enduring Guardian. They can be appointed by executing an instrument appointing an Enduring Guardian and which must be registered with Service Tasmania to be legally binding. If you are unsure of the registration process, we recommend you seek legal advice. An instrument appointing an Enduring Guardian is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.
In Victoria, a medical decision-maker is called a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. You may appoint more than one person. However, only one person may make decisions at any given time. You can appoint one or more Medical Treatment Decision Makers by executing an instrument appointing a Medical Treatment Decision Maker, which is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.
In WA, this individual is known as an Enduring Guardian. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian by executing an Enduring Power of Guardianship, and the document is available on the Your Wills website.
Australian Capital Territory
In the Australian Capital Territory, this individual is referred to as a Guardian. You can appoint a Guardian by executing an Enduring Power of Guardianship.
If you reside in the Northern Territory, this individual is known as a Decision-Maker. You can appoint a decision-maker by executing an Advanced Personal Plan.
In Queensland, this individual is known as a Substitute Decision-Maker. You can appoint a Substitute Decision-Maker by executing an advance health directive.
In South Australia, this individual is known as a Substitute Decision-Maker. A Substitute Decision-Maker may be appointed by an advance care directive.
For more information head to: https://www.yourwills.com.au/power-of-attorney-forms/
How to start your medical power of attorney
If you’re interested in finding out more about how to put together a medical power of attorney visit Your Wills. Your Wills can also assist in creating a Will online as well. The process for both is straightforward and simple. Having a legally recognised Will is a key component of achieving financial well-being. Get absolute peace of mind for your loved ones.
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