Planning for The Future
Life has a habit of moving ahead without us giving it too much thought. But the time may come when you can no longer speak for yourself, due to illness or injury. Perhaps now is the opportunity to make your future preferences clear, if this were to happen. This may both give you peace of mind and provide some helpful direction to those involved in making decisions about your situation.
There are a number of aspects to consider. These include:
- Who makes decisions about your health care, if you can’t?
- What type of health related treatment would you want or not want?
- Who makes decisions about your financial situation or can act on your behalf?
- What happens about your estate if you die? Have you made a will?
- Do you have a preferred funeral director? What are your preferred funeral arrangements (such as burial or cremation)?
Your ‘person responsible’ and Appointing Your Own ‘enduring guardian’
If you can no longer make your own health-related decisions and give consent, this is done by your ‘person responsible’. This is a legally authorised substitute decision-maker under the NSW Guardianship Act (1987). It replaces the old term, ‘next of kin’.
The ‘person responsible’ is determined according to a hierarchy set out in the Guardianship Act in the following order:
- an appointed guardian;
- the most recent spouse or de factor spouse with whom the resident has a close, continuing relationship;
- an unpaid carer who provided support to the resident before they entered residential care; and, finally
- relative or friend who has a close personal relationship with the resident.
This hierarchy must be worked through in the order given, with those lower on the list unable to take precedence over those higher up.
The best way to ensure that you have control over this process and that your wishes are respected is to appoint your own guardian. This is known as an ‘enduring guardian’. This is a formally appointed substitute decision-maker of your choice to make lifestyle and/or health care decisions for you, should you lose the capacity to make your own decisions at some time in the future.
You should let this person (or persons) know about your preferences for future treatment, in given circumstances. More simply, the choices you would make for yourself if you could.
Advance Care Directive
Whether you appoint an enduring guardian or not, a further step you can take is to draw up an ‘advance care directive’. An advance care directive sets out your instructions that consent to, or refuse, specified medical treatments or care in the future. In other words, it is you giving directions for your future care in advance.
Of course, it only becomes effective in situations where you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This may be very important to you, especially when it comes to decisions regarding your end of life care, and your refusal of certain treatments, which otherwise would be administered. Your wishes are paramount and, if clearly stated, they cannot be overridden.
‘Enduring Power Of Attorney’ and making a Will
When it comes to financial matters, a separate step you can consider is to grant someone your ‘Enduring Power of Attorney’. It is a legal document where you appoint someone you trust as your agent with authority to carry out your instructions relating to financial, property and business affairs.
An Enduring Power of Attorney continues to operate even if you become unable to make your own decisions. A General Power of Attorney however ceases to operate if you become unable to make your own decisions.
However, it does cease when you die. At this point, this is when your Will takes effect. This is a legal document stating what you want to happen to your property or other assets after you die.
It helps if you have considered these various issues before you become a resident at Marco Polo.
Preferred Funeral Arrangements
You should also make it known if you have a preferred funeral director. This is one of the questions we ask when you become a resident at Marco Polo.
A related consideration is if you prefer certain funeral arrangements, i.e. burial or cremation, and what religious stipulations or requirements you may have.
We understand that these considerations may be fundamental to you at this time.