Why Should I Have a Medical Power of Attorney?

Why Should I have a Medical Power of Attorney
Why Should I have a Medical Power of Attorney

At Your Wills we cater to a diverse range of needs. The appointment of a medical decision maker may not be at the forefront of your everyday thinking, however, in our experience, an orderly approach to medical responsibility and care sees families and individuals guided in times of uncertainty and hardship. For others, the decision to appoint a medical decision maker represents a proactive step to ensure peace of mind for future and uncertain possibilities.

What is a medical decision maker?

Each state and territory is governed by different legislation, which is why Your Wills use different names for a medical decision maker in each state and territory. You will find brief explanations of the terminology for each state and territory below.

A medical decision maker is a trustworthy individual of your choice appointed by you to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Your medical decision maker will be consulted when it is determined that you do not have capacity to make important medical decisions yourself. This could include neurological disabilities, an intellectual disability, a mental illness, a physical disability or even unconsciousness.

A medical decision maker is appointed through a document executed by the person whose medical decisions will be made for them, if required. Details on those documents for each state and territory are set out below.

It is important to keep in mind that such an appointment document is not a Will and will not remain in force once the appointor is deceased.

Should I take this step?

The reasons someone may decide to appoint a medical representative vary greatly, and there is no single directive for when an instrument appointing a medical decision maker should be used.

A number of factors may inform and guide this decision including situations where the person appointing a medical decision maker:

  • Has a chronic illness or injury;
  • Is elderly;
  • Has declining health;
  • Has a decided preference for who they want to make their medical decisions; or
  • Engages in dangerous recreational activities with a greater risk of injury and hospitalisation.

It is important for each person to consider their individual circumstances in deciding whether a medical decision maker is appropriate for them.

The decision to appoint a medical representative ensures everyone, including younger sects of the population, can make proactive and informed decisions about the future of their health care.

In the absence of a medical directive or appointment of a representative, the law automatically appoints an individual to make these decisions for you. We are here to ensure that in times of illness or misadventure the individual that will make your medical decisions is clear. This ensures that in times of great difficulty, the focus is centred on your care and not contests for decision making priority. Your medical representative can be registered on My Health Record, a national online scheme that contains all your past medical history. This ensures that even when travelling interstate or internationally, you can access previous medical records and note who is your decision maker.

New South Wales 

In NSW, this individual is known as an Enduring Guardian. This individual is appointed by you to make decisions regarding your health and medical needs. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian if you are over 18 and have the capacity to make this decision.

This is done by executing a document known as an Enduring Power of Guardianship. An Enduring Power of Guardianship document is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, this individual is known as an Enduring Guardian. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian by executing an instrument appointing an Enduring Guardian.

An instrument appointing an Enduring Guardian must be registered with Service Tasmania in order to have legal effect. If you are unsure of the registration process, we recommend you seek legal advice. An instrument appointing an Enduring Guardian is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.

Victoria 

In Victoria, the individual you appoint to make these decisions is known as a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. You may appoint more than one medical treatment decision maker, however, only one person may make decisions at any given time. You can appoint one or more Medical Treatment Decision Makers by executing an instrument appointing a Medical Treatment Decision Maker. An instrument appointing a Medical Treatment Decision Maker is available for purchase on the Your Wills website.

Western Australia  

In WA, this individual is known as an Enduring Guardian. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian by executing an Enduring Power of Guardianship. An Enduring Power of Guardianship document is available on the Your Wills website.

Australian Capital Territory

In the Australian Capital Territory, this individual is referred to as a Guardian. You can appoint a Guardian by executing an Enduring Power of Guardianship.

Northern Territory 

If you reside in the Northern Territory, this individual is known as a Decision-Maker. You can appoint a decision-maker by executing an Advanced Personal Plan.

Queensland 

In Queensland, this individual is known as a Substitute Decision-Maker. You can appoint a Substitute Decision-Maker by executing an advance health directive.

South Australia 

In South Australia, this individual is known as a Substitute Decision-Maker. A Substitute Decision-Maker may be appointed by an advance care directive.

For more information head to: www.yourwills.com.au/power-of-attorney-online/