Advanced Care Directives

Changes to Advance Care Directives in South Australia

Estate Planning South AustraliaA number of changes have been made impacting Advance Care Directives in South Australia. We outline what these changes are, and how this might impact you.

Firstly, what is an Advance Care Directive?

If you are aged 18 years or older, an Advance Care Directive enables you to give clear legal directions about your future health care, end of life, living arrangements and other personal matters, should you be unable to make those decisions yourself.

It is an important, legally-binding document to ensure that your future care needs are met in line with your beliefs, values and goals. Should the need arise, your Advance Care Directive can appoint one or more adults known as ‘Substitute Decision-Makers’ to make these decisions on your behalf.

What has changed?

The Advance Care Directives (Review) Amendment Act 2023 commenced on 1 March 2024.

A number of changes have been made under this Act with the intention of improving the functioning of Advance Care Directives in South Australia.

The key changes are:

  • Substitute Decision-Makers can now sign Advance Care Directives electronically. This is a big step forward in today’s digital world!
  • Requirements for interpreters have been strengthened for people making Advance Care Directives where English is not their first language. An interpreter needs to be fully independent, for example they cannot be a beneficiary of your Will.
  • Clearer requirements for appointing Substitute Decision-Makers, to facilitate decisions being made in the way you decide.  You can appoint them together, separately, or in a preferred order of precedence.

One of the key changes is that you can now appoint more Substitute Decision-Makers… this used to be capped at three, but now there is no limit to the number of Substitute Decision-Makers you can appoint.

What’s this mean for me?

The ability for your Substitute Decision-Makers to sign electronically and being able to appoint as many people as you wish to this role are the changes most people will welcome in terms of practicality and convenience.

If you have an Advance Care Directive in place, you might want to particularly consider the ability to appoint more Substitute Decision-Makers. As an example, if you have four children, you may want to include all children in the decision-making process.

Get in touch!

If you don’t have an Advance Care Directive (or its alternative in other States and Territories of Australia), you should consider drafting one as part of your estate planning process. Together with a Will, it is one of the most important documents to have in place. Alternatively, if you would like to change your existing Advance Care Directive as a result of these reforms, we can help you. With experienced and caring Wills & Estate lawyers in SA, WA, NT and QLD, we can assist you with any of your Wills & Estates needs.

Visit our website to find your nearest office and have a chat to us today.