When it comes to making a decision about appointing an Enduring Guardian to look after you when you lose capacity either through old age or ill health (or both), the clear message is: don’t leave it until it is too late. RMB Lawyers Partner ADAM BARLOW explains:
For many Australians, the thought of losing our capacity is uncomfortable. Having to rely on other people, even close family members, to make decisions for us about aged care and end of life directions can be confronting.
Many people do not want to think about the situation and are not prepared to accept that they will ever need help making those decisions.
It is important to understand that planning for such a situation allows you to make decisions that are in your best interest now while you still can.
Losing your capacity without making those decision may require your family to make an application to the NSW Trustee and Guardian for an order about your guardianship. This can be traumatic for your family at an already difficult time.
If you have a complex family structure this could result in fighting amongst your family. It could also lead to people being appointed as your Guardian who would not be your first preference.
It is therefore important that you consider the situation early and prepare an Enduring Guardianship appointment so that you can specify who is to make decisions on your behalf. You can also decide if you will require more than one person to agree on key decisions and to give them guidance about end of life decisions.
An Enduring Guardianship appointment is different to nominating a Power of Attorney. Your attorney can only make decisions about your financial affairs whereas a guardian can make decisions about your health and lifestyle, including where you live and what heath care you receive.
They can be the same people, but the nomination process is separate.
You can also provide detailed directions about end of life decisions in the form of an Advanced Care Directive. This directive sets out a clear decision-making process for your guardian when you are in diagnosed as suffering specific heath conditions. It can allow your guardian to reject medical treatment and terminate life-sustaining measures in accordance with your personal wishes.
Your Advanced Care Directive can be prepared in consultation with your doctor and is important to confirm your specific end of life intentions. If you have a question or concern, please contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, or ask us a question via email.