An Advance Care Directive is an important part of your end-of-life care. It formalises your advance care plan. The Advance Care Directive can contain all your needs, values and preferences for your future care and details of a substitute decision-maker.

You don’t require a lawyer to complete a valid Advance Care Directive. Our Consultants can assist you to develop one. 

You can only make a valid Advance Care Directive if you are over 18 and have decision making capacity. Decision making capacity refers to a person’s ability to make day to day decisions. 

An Advance Care Directive can include one or more of the following:

  • the person you would like to be your substitute decision-maker
  • details of what is important to you, such as your values, life goals and preferred outcomes
  • the treatments and care you would like or would refuse if you have a life-threatening illness or injury

Health professionals and family members must follow a valid Advance Care Directive. They cannot override it.

Your doctor should provide you with information and advice regarding your current health situation. They should also discuss what may happen in the future. It is a good idea to discuss your Advance Care Directive with your doctor.

Once developed, you should give copies of your directive to

  • your family
  • your substitute decision-maker
  • your hospital and doctor
  • the ambulance service
  • anyone else who you feel is appropriate

You can change your advance care directive at any time. If you do change it, make sure anyone you gave the original directive to gets the new version. The most recent version of your directive will be the one followed.

You should review your advance care directive:

  • when your preferences change
  • if your substitute decision-maker changes
  • when your medical condition changes


Choosing your substitute decision-maker is important. It is a good idea to think carefully about who you want to take that role. Your decision-maker will make decisions about your medical treatment if you can’t.

Your substitute decision-maker should be somebody:

  • you trust
  • who is over 18 years
  • who will listen to your values and preferences for future care
  • who will be comfortable making decisions in difficult situations

You should ask yourself the question: ‘Am I confident this person will make decisions based on what I would want?’

You can also choose a second person as an alternate decision-maker. They will step in if your first decision-maker is unable to make decisions on your behalf.

In different Australian states and territories substitute decision-makers may have different titles. If you want to formalise your choice of a substitute decision-maker, you need to complete the relevant form that is used in your state or territory. End of Life Planning can provide you access to this form. 

My Health Record

You can add your Advance Care Directive to your My Health Record.  That way it’s available to your treating doctors if ever needed. You can also store the names of people you have shared your directive with.