Advance Care Planning

Do you have a plan in case something happens to you and you can no longer communicate your wishes for your health and personal care with your loved ones? If not, you may want to create an Advance Care Directive.

Is an Advance Care Directive different from a Will?

Yes, an Advance Care Directive (or living will) is different to a Will. A Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes for distributing your assets after death. A Will is implemented after you die, whereas an Advance Care Directive can come into effect while you are alive.

Who should have an Advance Care Directive?

Anyone over the age of 18 can make an advance care plan. However, it is best to start planning when you’re healthy before there is a need for the plan. This is especially important for people who are:

  • at risk of losing cognitive and physical abilities
  • living with a life-limiting illness
  • living with an advanced long-term illness.

What does an advance care plan involve?

Advance care planning involves completing an Advance Care Directive form (relevant to your state or territory) and appointing a substitute decision-maker. A substitute decision-maker is someone you trust who is over the age of 18 (e.g. family member, friend or carer).

Advance Care Directive forms and requirements, and how to choose your substitute decision-makers, varies between states and territories. The completed forms must also be signed by a witness who can authorise a statutory declaration, for example, a medical or a legal practitioner.

Visit the Advance Care Planning Australia website to find out more about your state or territory’s requirements.

"I want to ensure that I am cared for in the way that is aligned with my values and places the least onus and workload on my family."
"I made an appointment with a lawyer and renewed [my] will at the same time, then arranged family to go through [it] and sign their acceptance logging a copy with a lawyer, GP and advising [my] specialist of [its] existence." 
"I discussed every aspect of my ACD with my family and with their input I found it was not as difficult as I thought it might be."

Where to find more information

If you have any questions about advance care planning, talk your GP or lawyer, or call the Advance Care Planning Advisory Service on: 1300 208 582, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm (AEST) or visit their website.

Palliative care

If you or your loved one requires palliative care, you can find out more about Bupa’s home-based specialist Palliative Care Choices programs in Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.

Starting the conversation

Talking about advance care planning with family members can be hard. Health Link has some ideas that may help.