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.
Apart from appointing a substitute decision-maker, how else can I document my wishes?
- While having conversations about your wishes is crucial, it is strongly recommended that you also document your wishes in at least one of the ways outlined below. This will avoid situations such as the person(s) you have spoken with not quite remembering what you had said, the person not being available when decisions need to be made or the person not relaying your views if they were not really in agreement with them.
Include instructions in the appointment of your enduring guardian
- The form allows you to specify conditions that the enduring guardian must observe when making decisions on your behalf.
Make a written statement of your wishes
- This may be a general statement of your values, wishes and preferences. It may also include directions about whether you would, or would not, consent to specific treatments in particular circumstances.
- This type of document is often referred to as a ‘common law directive’ because it has a legal basis in common law (law decided by courts rather than legislation). This legal basis was established in NSW through a NSW Supreme Court decision in 2009.
- A common law directive written by you needs to be used to guide anyone who has to make decisions on your behalf.
- Documents for this purpose can be found from a range of programs - including the worksheets on this website, the NSW websites listed below and other programs listed on this site.
- If you choose to make a common law directive, it is strongly recommended that you use one of the forms developed for this purpose and that you have the form witnessed. This will increase the likelihood that your directive will be accepted and acted on if the need arises.
Whatever type of documents you make, it is vital to give copies to people who may have to make decisions for you in the future and to make sure they understand how you want them to use these documents.
Links to local resources
To view information about advance care planning on the NSW Planning Ahead Tools website, click here