As we now head into April 2020 in a new era of uncertainty and isolation in the midst of a health pandemic, now more than ever is advance care planning important.
We have just passed the 2020 National Advance Care Planning Week and most of you probably didn’t even know it was happening.
What is National Advance Care Planning Week? Why is it important? Should I be involved and more aware? These are some important questions that this article seeks to answer for you.
Firstly, National Advance Care Planning Week is an initiative instituted by Advance Care Planning Australia that brings to the forefront the importance of all Australians, whether young or old, sick or healthy, to make known their preferences in terms of future medical treatment.
Statistics show that approximately 50% of people will be too unwell to make their own end-of-life medical decisions when the time comes. This means that these decisions are being left in the hands of family members or friends. Without expressing your wishes and your preferences, this not only places a burden on your family members and friends to have to make difficult decisions in an already difficult time, but also gives you uncertainty as to what decisions will be made for you.
It is often recommended by doctors and medical professionals that you prepare an Advance Care Directive. This is a formal document that is sometimes known as a ‘living Will’ and is a binding document that outlines your values, goals, preferred outcomes of medical treatment and what treatments you would refuse in certain circumstances. Although the preparation of this document is useful, it has its limitations.
Our team at Frank Law, through our experiences with clients as well as personal experiences, have developed a process for Advance Care Planning that does not involve the preparation of an Advance Care Directive as we believe this document is incapable of foreseeing the likely advances in medical science or to precisely address your circumstances at the time. We have adopted an alternative approach whereby your values, goals and outcomes as well as medical treatment preferences are included in your Enduring Guardianship Instrument as a non-binding expression of your wishes that your guardian is to consider when making decisions for you. This approach offers flexibility and whilst still allowing you to express your wishes, does not create a situation where your guardian is bound by what is written on a piece of paper and has discretion with the advice of doctors and medical professionals at the time.
If you would like to discuss the inclusion of such Advance Care Planning in your Enduring Guardianship or want to learn more about Advance Care Planning, contact our Estate Planning Team here at Frank Law and we can assist you with putting in place the best strategy for you.