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 Queensland is by appointing an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney document with the function of personal/health matters.
  • You can make this appointment by completing either an Enduring Power of Attorney form or Section 7 of an Advance Health Directive form.
  • Examples of personal/health matters include where you live, day-to-day issues such as diet and dress, as well as consenting, or refusing consent, to particular types of healthcare (such as surgery).
  • The appointed attorney will not be able to give consent to special heath matters, such as donation of body tissue, sterilisation, clinical research or experimental healthcare.
  • You can appoint more than one attorney and there are several ways that you can nominate how they are to make decisions e.g. together or separately.
  • You can specify decisions that you do, or do not, want your attorney to make. You can also give instructions about what you want your attorney to do in certain circumstances (e.g. “If I need nursing home care, I want my attorney to try XYZ Nursing Home first.”)
  • The Enduring Power of Attorney for personal/health matters will only come into effect if you reach a point in the future where you lose decision-making capacity i.e. you are not capable of understanding the nature of a decision and foreseeing its effects, and of communicating that decision.
  • An attorney for personal/health matters has no authority to make financial decisions on your behalf – unless they have also been appointed as an attorney for financial matters.

Links to local resources

To view information about Enduring Power of Attorney and to download copies of the forms, click here.

The Public Trustee can be contacted here or by calling 1300 360 044.

Step 5: How else can i document my wishes?