In these unprecedented times it is not unusual to think about our own frailties and those of the important people in our life. We start to consider what would happen if we became unwell and needed someone to assist with managing our health and financial welfare. What if we needed to take care of such matters for our loved ones, particularly for the elderly in our life?
Thankfully, in the Northern Territory it is possible to prepare for such eventualities by preparing an Advance Personal Plan. This is a legal document that permits an adult individual, with planning capacity, to set out their future health, financial and life choices should they be unable to make decisions for themselves. The Plan allows us to:
(a) make consent decisions about future health care action (advance consent decisions);
(b) set out our views, wishes and beliefs and the basis on which we want anyone to act if they make decisions on our behalf (advance care statements);
(c) appoint one or more persons to make decisions for us if we lose decision-making capacity (even just temporarily).
An advance consent decision could, for example, confirm in what circumstances we would want to be resuscitated and when we might wish for life support to be turned off.
An advance care statement could outline what religious practices are important to us and that we would like to be to be observed nearing death or could simply record what music we would prefer to listen to if we are incapacitated and cannot choose for ourselves.
The appointment of a decision maker (or multiple decision makers) allows us to dictate who should be making any or all decisions on our behalf. This ensures decisions are being made by someone we trust, someone who really understands our values and beliefs and will have our best interests at heart. We can also choose to have different people make different types of decisions. We may choose a family member or friend to make financial decisions if they have a history of being fiscally responsible. That person may not be suited to making emotional decisions regarding health care and an alternative individual might be chosen to make such decisions.
Importantly, having a Plan in place avoids the need for our loved ones to make an application to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to seek an order allowing them to make decisions on our behalf –in a time of need that is the last thing we would want our family or friends to have to go through.
Tindall Gask Bentley Darwin can provide advice regarding the drafting of an Advance Personal Plan, together with other essential documents such as a Will and Power of Attorney.
To book an appointment click here and we’ll be in touch soon, or call our Darwin office on (08) 8941 7814.