Burgess Thomson Lawyers

Advanced Care Directives

Wills & Estate Planning

Newcastle's Leading Estate Planning Specialists

An Advance Care Directive is referred to as a “living will” and formally outlines your preferences for your future care along with your beliefs, values, and goals. In an Advance Care Directive, you can formally appoint a substitute decision-maker to act on your behalf when you can no longer make decisions yourself. In a crisis your loved ones may find it difficult to decide what treatment is best for you. An Advanced Care Directive will help your family understand your wishes by setting out your specific directions which must be considered before any medical decisions are made.


At Burgess Thomson we can help you write an Advance Care Directive that outlines your wishes in relation to your medical welfare. This can include documenting the person you would like to be your substitute decision-maker, details of what is important to you, such as values and preferred outcomes, and the treatments and care you would like or refuse if you have a life-threatening illness or injury. An Advance Care Directive is an important part of your estate planning, as all health professionals and family members must follow a valid directive once it is made.

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What is the difference between an Advance Care Directive and an Appointment of Enduring Guardian?

Enduring Guardianship is the legal form of appointment of a substitute decision-maker in areas concerning your general health and lifestyle. An Advance Care Directive can record your specific wishes and values which need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on your behalf. An Advance Care Directive binds any health professional making decisions regarding your health and wellbeing. An Advance Care Directive can be attached to your Appointment of Enduring Guardianship, or they can be separate documents.

Who should you select as a substitute decision-maker?

Choosing a substitute decision maker is important because this person will be responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. Your substitute decision-maker should be somebody who you trust, is over 18 years of age, will listen to your values and preferences for future care and will be comfortable making decisions in difficult situations. You can also select a second person as an alternative decision-maker. This person will step in if your first decision-maker becomes unable to make decisions on your behalf.

What type of information is put into an Advance Care Directive?

It is helpful to write about any personal values which might influence medical treatment choices including religious beliefs. Advance Care Directives commonly include preferences about resuscitation and life support, use of life prolonging treatments, situations when treatment should be limited to comfort care, goals for care in the event of a significant loss in health or function, end of care wishes and organ and tissue donations.

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