Prior to 1 July 2014, the provisions under the Guardianship and Administration Act (SA) 1993 enabled you to appoint a person to act as your guardian, pursuant to an Enduring Power of Guardianship document. Once appointed, your guardian was then able to make personal decisions on your behalf such as where you will live, your personal matters such as lifestyle and welfare decisions and consenting or refusing medical treatment. Medical decisions could also be made by a medical attorney, appointed under the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act (SA) 1995, pursuant to a Medical Power of Attorney document.
From 1 July 2014, the Advance Care Directives pursuant to the Advance Care Directives Act (SA) 2013 replaced the Enduring Power of Guardianship and the Medical Power of Attorney, with one single form called an Advance Care Directive Form.
The Advance Care Directive Form allows you to make your values, wishes and preferences known with respect to your future health care, living arrangements and personal matters and to appoint persons to make these decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so. Once made, the Advance Care Directive takes effect during any period of impaired decision-making capacity, whether temporary or permanent. The aim of the new legislation is to enable health care to be provided in accordance with your directions, wishes and values and for those same considerations to be taken into account when dealing with your living arrangements and personal matters.
The new legislation also includes new protections for health practitioners. In circumstances where your decision making capacity is impaired, and a health practitioner is required to make a decision on your health care needs, provided the practitioner has acted in compliance with your advanced care directions (which must include directions that are lawful), in good faith and without negligence – they will be protected from liability.
The Advance Care Directive Form and Guide is available either in hard copy or electronically from the Advance Care Directives Website at www.advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au or may be purchased directly from Service SA either over the phone on 13 23 24 or over the counter at 108 North Terrace, Adelaide.
Enduring Powers of Guardianship and Medical Powers of Attorney which existed prior to 1 July 2014 continue to have legal effect but may not include specific directions which take into consideration your values and wishes for future health care, living arrangements and personal matters.
We encourage you therefore to seriously consider the benefits of completing an Advance Care Directive and urge you to also take the time to review your current Estate documents (including your Will and Power documents) to ensure that they still meet your needs. Should you require estate advice or require any amendments to be made please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Lawyers on (08) 7210 9000.
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This article is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Tri-meridian Corporate & Commercial Law and is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. We do not accept responsibility for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser.