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.
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.
- As the first option below has a clear legal basis in South Australian legislation, it is recommended that you explore this options first.
Complete an Advance Care Directive Form
- This is a written document that has a clear legal basis in legislation under the Advance Care Directive Act 2013. The new Advance Care Directive empowers you to make clear legal arrangements for your future health care, end of life, preferred living arrangements and other personal matters.
- It replaces the previous Enduring Power of Guardianship, Medical Power of Attorney and Anticipatory Direction with a single Advance Care Directive Form.
- The new Advance Care Directive allows you to: write down your wishes, preferences and instructions for your future health care, end of life, living arrangements, personal matters; and/or appoint one or more Substitute Decision-Makers to make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so in the future.
- Comprehensive information about Advance Care Directives can be found on the links to local resources below.
Make a written statement of your wishes other than in an Advance Care Directive Form
- 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 potentially has a legal basis in common law (law decided by courts rather than legislation). A common law directive written by you needs to be used to guide any persons who have to make decisions on your behalf.
- If you choose to make a common law directive, it is strongly recommended that you use one of the forms developed for this purpose (such as the ones on this website) 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.
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
A range of information about planning ahead can be found on the Department of Health website, here