An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a way for you to communicate your wishes about medical treatment should you be unable to make decisions about your health treatment in the future.
The document allows you to direct in advance how you wish to be treated when critical health issues arise. Like Wills, Advance Health Directives can be an unpleasant topic to discuss and consider. However the document can assist greatly when your loved ones need to make very important decisions about your health.
Without an AHD, critical decisions relating to your health care are left up to your attorney (if you have appointed one) or a statutory attorney (usually a family member or close friend). In the absence of the AHD these people may have to make these decisions without knowing your wishes.
Can anyone make an Advance Health Directive?
Anyone who is over eighteen (18) years of age and is capable of understanding the nature of their directions can generally make an AHD.
What information goes in Advance Health Directive?
An Advance Health Directive can be as general or as specific as you want.
It may be that there are certain medical procedures that you do not wish performed under any circumstances. For example due to religious beliefs. An AHD is a way of ensuring these decisions are communicated at the critical time.
You may want to give instructions about whether you want intervention to keep you alive or any treatment you want or don’t want should your condition be incurable, terminal, irreversible or if you are permanently unconscious.
The purpose of the AHD is to give you confidence that your wishes regarding health care will be carried out.
When should I make an Advance Health Directive?
Because an AHD is in preparation for the unexpected, the best time to make one is now. It is a good idea to ensure you have an AHD if you are about to be admitted to hospital or have a medical condition that may affect your ability to make decisions.
How do I complete an Advance Health Directive?
We will actually complete a draft of the Advance Health Directive document for you. You then have to complete the first part of the Advance Health Directive with your Doctor who must sign the document to confirm that you understand the medical implications of the directions you give.
Once you have completed the Advance Health Directive with your Doctor, a Solicitor or Justice of the Peace will then complete another section to finalise the AHD.
The completed AHD should then be kept in a safe place. We recommend keeping the document in Safe Custody at our office or you are welcome to take the original for safe keeping.
We also recommend you give a copy of the Advance Health Directive to your Attorney for personal / health matters, a family member or friend, your doctor and to your lawyer.
Can I change or revoke my Advance Health Directive?
Your wishes as outlined in the AHD are not final. You can change them at any time while you remain mentally capable of doing so.
It is recommended that you review your AHD every 1 to 2 years or if there is a major change to your health status.
If you wish to revoke your AHD you should destroy the current original document and make a new one.
If you wish to revoke your AHD totally and not make a new one you will need to do so in writing. No specific form is required and you do not need a qualified witness such as a Justice of the Peace, Solicitor or Commissioner for Declarations.
Want more information?
Contact our Wills and Estates team today to discuss your estate planning needs.