Health Care Planning

Advance Care Planning involves setting out your wishes now for your future health and medical care.

There are three main types of advance care planning. These are:

  1. Enduring Power of Attorney
  2. Advance Health Directive; and
  3. Statement of Views.

These forms of advance care planning only come into effect when you are no longer able to speak for yourself.

1. Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)

An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) is a formal document used by an adult (the principal) to authorise one or more persons (the attorneys) to make personal and/or financial decisions on the principal’s behalf if the principal lacks capacity to make those decisions. An EPA allows you to name someone to make decisions on your behalf if or when you can no longer do so. That person (referred to as your “attorney”) can be authorised to make financial (money) decisions, personal decisions (for example, relating to health care), or both. An attorney appointed for personal matters will become the primary contact if you need medical treatment. People often make an EPA when they make a Will.

The person you select cannot make decisions about “special health matters” (e.g. organ donation). Those decisions are made by your next of kin (closest relative).

An example of an enduring power of attorney document that you can complete online can be found at: https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/power-of-attorney-and-advance-health-directive

Paper copies can also be obtained from many newsagents.

For more information, see LawRight’s:

2. Advance Health Directive (AHD)

This legally binding document tells health care professionals what treatment you would like to receive (or not receive) in the event that you are no longer able to make your wishes clear (e.g. you might be unconscious). While you are still able to speak for yourself, the Advance Health Directive will not be used.

Health professionals treating you must abide by your instructions in the Advance Health Directive, unless they are not consistent with good medical practice (you might have asked for something that could make your health worse) or are illegal (eg. a request for euthanasia).

When you fill out an Advance Health Directive, your doctor must agree that you understand your health condition(s) and the effect of making the Advance Health Directive. It is worth talking with your doctor before completing any forms.

You must also be at least 18 years old.

View LawRight’s step-by-step guide to completing an Advance Health Directive (with links to electronic forms) can be found by clicking the box below.

3. Statement of Views/Choices

If the person has completed an Enduring Power of Attorney or Advance Health Directive whilst they had capacity, they don’t need to do anything else. However, if a person lacks legal capacity and they have not pre-arranged an EPA or AHD, they may be able to get assistance to prepare a Statement of Views/Choices. Unlike an Advance Health Directive or EPA, this document lacks legal force, but it still may help guide medical and care practitioners in deciding care arrangements. A Statement of Views/Choices is usually prepared by a family member in collaboration with care professionals.

Read a more detailed explanation about a Statement of Views.

For information on other decision-makers for a person without legal capacity, such as the appointment of a guardian for health care for a person by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘QCAT’) or appointment of a statutory health attorney see the factsheets at: Guardianship and Administration.

More factsheets about Health Care Planning.

External resources

  • Public Guardian - The Office of the Public Guardian is an independent body, working to protect the rights and interests of adults who have an impaired capacity to make their own decisions.