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 professional.

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 best way to ensure your decisions have a clear and strong legal basis in South Australia is by appointing one or more Substitute Decision-Makers as part of an Advance Care Directive. The new Advance Care Directive has been implemented from 1 July 2014.
  • If you appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers, they will be legally able to make decisions for you about your health care, living arrangements and other personal matters when you are unable to. You can specify the types of decisions you want them to make in the Conditions of Appointment Part 2b of your Advance Care Directive Form.
  • Substitute Decision-Makers must sign your Advance Care Directive Form to show that they agree to taking on this role and that they understand what it entails. They must follow any relevant wishes or instructions you have written in your Advance Care Directive.
  • Prior to 1 July 2014, you might have appointed someone to make health and lifestyle decisions for you by completing an Enduring Power of Guardianship or Medical Power of Attorney. These will continue to be effective after 1 July 2014 unless you subsequently complete an Advance Care Directive that appoints one or more Substitute Decision-Makers.
  • People appointed as Substitute Decision-Makers cannot make financial decisions on your behalf – unless they have also been appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters.
  • As well as appointing someone as your Substitute Decision-Maker, it is really important that you discuss with them how you would want them to make decisions for you – your values and wishes generally and any specific treatments you would or would not agree to – as well as giving them certified copies of your Directive.
  • The Office of the Public Advocate operates an Information and Advisory Service during normal office hours. This service is able to give people information and advice about substitute decision making, consent to medical treatment and Advance Care Directives. They can be contacted on (08) 8340 8200 or 1800 066 969 for country callers.

Link to local resources

Full information about Advance Care Directives, including links to a DIY Kit and copies of forms can be found on the SA Government Advance Care Directives website, here

Step 5: How else can I document my wishes?