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Advance Health Directives (AHD): directions on your future health care treatments and wishes

An Advance Health Directive, also known as an AHD, should be considered in your succession planning and is becoming just as popular as the Will and Enduring Power of Attorney these days. 

This document allows you to voice your concerns, wishes and preferences on your future health care including sustaining or prolonging life treatments and blood transfusions.  It will be used and relied upon when you are unable to give instructions.  For example, you may have been in an accident or have dementia or a mental illness.    

Depending on your spiritual and religious beliefs, this document could be particularly important to you to ensure you are treated the way you wish to be treated.  

If you are due to have hospital treatment, have recently been diagnosed with a medical condition, you have a medical condition that may affect your ability to make decisions or you have a chronic medical condition, the AHD is strongly recommended.

You must be over 18 and have capacity to prepare and sign the document.    

Your doctor is to complete part of the form with you and will explain the various medical treatments.  The document then also needs to be signed by a qualified witness which we can assist you with.     

The document also has provisions for you to appoint an attorney for health care matters.  However what many don’t realise is that this, and wider powers, are covered in an Enduring Powers of Attorney, which you may already have in place.  If your Advance Health Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney documents are not completed in light of your overall succession plan and with reference to each other, this could cause major issues.  It is important that you have a professional review such documents to ensure they are in order and will work when and if they are required.        

Already have an Advance Health Directive in place?  It is equally important to keep it up to date.  You should review the document yearly and make any changes you require.  Changes should also be made with a professional to ensure they are done correctly and will be valid.        

Don’t have an Advance Health Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney in place?  You should not assume that your next of kin/loved ones will automatically be able to make decisions for you.  This should be discussed further with a professional.

Our experienced team at Marino Lawyers in Cairns is happy to assist with the Advance Health Directives and succession planning for you and your estate. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you.