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.
  • Since introduction of the Powers of Attorney Act 2014 from 1 September 2015, the ways to ensure your decisions have a clear and strong legal basis in Victoria are through an Enduring Power of Attorney for personal matters and/or an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment).
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney for personal matters has a broader function as it can cover a range of personal, lifestyle and healthcare decisions, whereas an Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) is restricted to making medical decisions.
  • In terms of medical decisions, someone appointed under your Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) – referred to as your ‘agent’ – has more authority than someone appointed under your Enduring Power of Attorney, including the ability to refuse treatment.
  • Neither of the people in these positions can make financial decisions on your behalf – unless they have also been appointed under an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters.
  • There is no central register of people appointed under either an Enduring Power of Attorney for personal matters or Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment).
  • The Powers of Attorney Act 2014 has also introduced a new type of power of attorney appointment — the Supportive Attorney. Supportive Attorney appointments are about promoting autonomy and dignity for a person who is able to make various decisions themselves, provided they have support to make and act on those decisions.
  • A person who makes a Supportive Attorney appointment gives power to the person they appoint to access information from third parties (such as hospitals, banks and utility providers), to communicate their decisions and to give effect to (act on) their decisions.
  • A Supportive Attorney can only act while the person appointing them has capacity to make the decisions for which they need support.

Links to local resources

To view information about Enduring Power of Attorney and download the appointment forms on the Office of the Public Advocate website, click here.

To get information and download a comprehensive booklet about Powers of Attorney, called Take Control, click here.

To view information about Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment) and download appointment forms, go to the Office of the Public Advocate website, here.

Advice for people who have been appointed as attorneys, medical agents or supportive attorneys can be found as links on this webpage here.
 

Step 5: How else can I document my wishes?