Legally appointing someone to make health and lifestyle decisions

This page provides a plain-English overview of the legal processes involved in planning ahead, as well as links to local information.

To get advice about your individual circumstances it is recommended that you consult with one of the agencies referred to below or a legal practitioner.

How do I legally appoint someone of my choice to make health and lifestyle decisions for me if I lose capacity to make my own decisions in the future?

  • While you might verbally nominate someone you want to make decisions for you or else have their name put in your medical records, this informal approach does not have a strong legal basis.
  • The way to ensure your decisions have a clear and strong legal basis in the Australian Capital Territory is through an Enduring Power of Attorney – if you choose the functions of personal care and healthcare.
  • A person appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney with healthcare function can make decisions such as:
    • consenting to lawful medical treatment necessary for your wellbeing
    • donations under the Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1978 from you to someone else e.g. blood, bone marrow (other than donations of non-regenerative tissue)
    • withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment for you
    • legal matters relating to your healthcare.
  • There are some matters that they cannot make decisions about e.g. sterilisation and participation in medical research.
  • The Public Advocate may accept being appointed as your Enduring Power of Attorney for personal care and healthcare functions. You will need to contact them to discuss this.

Links to local resources

To view information about Enduring Power of Attorney on the Public Advocate website, click here.

To download a comprehensive booklet with guidelines about Enduring Power of Attorney from the Public Advocate website, click here.

To download the official form to appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney, click here.

The Public Advocate of the ACT can be contacted here or by calling (02) 6207 9800.