Advanced Health Directives (or Living Wills)

What is an advanced health directive?
An advanced health directive (or living will) is a document in which you give directions about health matters, special health matters, and/or your future health care. The kinds of matters which you can address in an advanced health directive include:

  • consent to future health treatment
  • setting out the circumstances in which you want life-sustaining treatment to be withheld or withdrawn
  • donation of organs while you are still alive
  • participation in experimental health care
  • psychiatric health care

When does a advanced health directive come into effect?
A direction contained in an advanced health directive only comes into effect when you do not have the capacity to communicate a decision already outlined in an advanced health directive. For example, if you are in an irreversible coma, a directive to donate organs or withdraw life sustaining treatment comes into effect.

Why should I make an advanced health directive?
The purpose of an advanced health directive is to decide in advance about health treatment. If this is an issue of concern to you, you might consider whether you wish to make an advanced health directive.

How do I make an advanced health directive?
Making an advanced health directive is similar to making an enduring power of attorney. The form is a standard document that your solicitor can prepare for you or you can obtain a form from the newsagent or GoPrint. The requirements for completing the form are similar to an enduring power of attorney. In addition, a valid advanced health directive must include a certificate from your doctor that states that, at the time the directive was made, you appeared to have the necessary capacity to make it.