Most people have a Will in place to have some control over how their estate will be handled after they have passed on. But an essential document that is not always considered is the Advance Health Directive (AHD). Read why you should have an Advance Health Directive prepared now.
What is an Advance Health Directive?
An AHD, sometimes referred to as a living Will, is a legal document that outlines your instructions for your future medical treatment or health care. The AHD comes into effect only if you are unable to make your own decisions, for instance, you may be unconscious or unable to communicate your wishes.
Your AHD will specify:
- The treatment you do not consent to;
- Whether you have special conditions such as asthma or any allergies to medication;
- If you have religious beliefs that will affect your treatment;
- Your wishes if you have an incurable illness, are in a coma, in a vegetative state, are unlikely to recover without the use of life-sustaining measures;
- Your wishes with regards to tissue donation;
- People who are not to be contacted about your treatment;
- Your nominated doctors contact information; and
- The details of your power of attorney for personal and health matters – your power of attorney will be able to make health decisions that are not specified in your AHD.
Why prepare an Advance Health Directive now?
To be enforceable, the AHD must be prepared while you have the capacity to do so, which means at a time that you are able to understand the nature of your health decisions, and the effects of your directions. Your AHD must be made freely and voluntarily, and while you are able to communicate your decisions in some way.
It is important that you prepare your AHD early, in the event that either of the following occurs:
- You develop a mental impairment and lose the ability to have an enforceable AHD prepared;
- You are in the unfortunate situation where a critical decision must be made on your health care, but you are not able to communicate your wishes.
The AHD allows you to make your wishes known when you cannot, and gives you confidence that they will be carried out.
Shanya Sahay is a Solicitor at Stephens & Tozer, undertaking work across an extensive range of legal practice areas including estate planning. If you have any queries about an Advance Health Directive, or are ready to have one prepared, contact a Solicitor at Stephens & Tozer today.
11 November 2019