8 important terms you need to know to be able to plan well

learnThere are so many terms we have to understand if we want to be in charge of our living and dying. These FAQs should help build your knowledge.

If you are ever not quite sure however, we recommend you speak with a solicitor or Public Trustee staff, especially as some terms and laws differ from state to territory in Australia.

POWER OF ATTORNEY: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in your financial dealings for a certain period of time – for example, if you were going overseas.

ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in your in your financial dealings over a longer term – usually when you have lost ‘capacity’ to make financial decisions.

ENDURING GUARDIAN: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in deciding what health and wellbeing actions are to be taken in the long term when you no longer have the capacity to do so.

HEALTH CARE PLAN: A plan completed with your doctor to ensure maximum health at any stage of your life.

ADVANCE CARE PLAN: The health care choices you make should your health fail in later years. These can then be inserted into your Advance Care Directive.

ADVANCE CARE DIRECTIVE: Sometimes known as a ‘living will’, this is a document indicating what health care steps should be taken in certain circumstances if a person does not have the capacity to make or communicate their health/medical decisions choices. In the document you designate a ‘Person Responsible’ to advocate for you (based on what you have written in your Advance Care Directive) when you can’t.

CAPACITY: A person must have ‘capacity’ when writing and signing an Advance Care Directive. You are deemed to have capacity when you are:

  1. able to freely and voluntarily make decisions about a matter
  2. able to understand and foresee the effects of any decision you make
  3. able to communicate these decisions to others
  4. in South Australia, are able to remember these decisions for a short while.

As long as you have capacity, you will be able to accept or reject specific health and wellbeing treatments. When you are deemed to have lost capacity, someone else (your Person Responsible or Next of Kin) will need to make those decisions for you.

PERSON RESPONSIBLE: A person over the age of 18 whom you trust to advocate your health and wellbeing wishes when you no longer have capacity to do so. You nominate them in your Advance Care Directive. They can be your Enduring Guardian, spouse, de facto spouse or same-sex partner, an unpaid carer, a close friend or relative or a combination of these. They must agree to be your person responsible and sign the Advance Care Directive in front of a witness.