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Advanced Health Care Directives

Notary Public Services

Thanks for your help with this matter.

Jackie Lomax, Tax Manager, 

PKF Accountants, Friday 02/10/2015

What is an Advanced Health Care Directive?

An Advanced Health Care Directive is a legal document that provides your wishes on your healthcare to Doctors. It applies to treatment including medical, surgical and dental treatment and will apply in the event you are unable (for whatever reason) to give your own directives on your care.

The Advances Healthcare Directive does not take effect upon the creation of the document, it only takes effect after the person who created the directive (known as the Principal) is unable to make his or her own heath care decisions and only after a doctor has declared the Principal as unable to understand or communicate (for whatever reason including due to dementia, stroke or being in a coma, etc…).

For instance the most common Advanced Care Directives are used to direct doctors that in the event a patient is incapacitated (e.g. by reason of an incurable, irreversible illness or disease) , the patient directs that life-sustaining measures served to prolong life be withheld or discontinued.

An Advanced Healthcare Directive can be revoked at any time provided you are still legally able to make medical decisions. It is best to arrange for your Advanced Healthcare Directive before your mental health diminishes as otherwise it is open to being challenged.

Is this a type of euthanasia? 

No, euthanasia is the power to take active steps to unnaturally end life or actively terminating life to hasten death.

The Advance Care Directive cannot authorise the unnatural ending of life.

Euthanasia is illegal in Australia.

In order for an Advanced Healthcare Directive to take place, a doctor will have to certify that you suffer from a terminal illness or are permanently unconscious. For instance, if you have a heart attack and are not otherwise terminally ill, the document does not come into play.

How can an Advanced Health Care Directive benefit me and my family?

Some people, from personal experience, religious beliefs or advice from loved ones, feel it is necessary to specify the type of treatment they want in the event they are ill and are unable to give these directions. The Advances Heath Care Directive allows this to take place through a legally binding document.

If you do not have such a document outlining your wishes, a treatment decision will be made on your behalf in the event you are unable to decide for yourself.

How is the Advanced Healthcare Directive (aka Living Will) different to the Guardianship Document? Do I need both?

The Guardianship document gives the Guardian the power to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so. Depending on the extent of the powers you give to your Guardian, he or she can be granted with the power to authorise the turning off of your life support, should the situation arise.

The decision to turn off life support can be traumatising for family members so some individuals prefer to opt for an Advanced Healthcare Directive (aka Living Will). The Advances Healthcare Directive (aka Living Will) is a legal document which can be relied on by a medical institution as evidence of an individual’s intentions regarding life prolonging medical treatment. An Advanced Healthcare Directive will override any existing Guardianship document.

It is your choice if you wish to appoint a Guardian and have a Living Will.

Benefits of Betar Lawyers

We understand the care needed to draft some important documents and will spend the time to listen to you to get it right. We will also check to ensure it is the correct type of document for your purposes.

Fees

A detailed fee estimate is provided to you.  This gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you will pay.

Our promise to you is to provide you with full disclosure of the costs and expenses.


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