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Advanced care directives


An advance care directive (sometimes known as a living will) is a clear statement that sets out your directions including your wishes and values that need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on your behalf. If you have capacity to make these directions, advance care directives can also record what you prefer to have as the goals of any medical intervention if you cannot communicate this for yourself a later time.

You cannot direct a doctor to treat you if it is not a medical option or if the treatment if considered to be futile.

While you have capacity you can discuss with your family, partner, friends and doctor what is important to you in general terms about the quality of life you want or in particular, when treating an illness or disease. This is called advance care planning.

What is the legal effect of an advance care directive?

There is no set form for you to record your advance care directive but it will be considered legally binding if it has the following features:

  • You make it while you have legal capacity.

  • Your instructions are clear, specific and current.

  • You sign your directive.

An advance care directive can be attached to an enduring guardianship appointment. Alternatively, you can direct your enduring guardian to your separately written advance care directive.



Quick links​ has information on advance care planning that caters to individuals, health and legal professionals.