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Living Will

Which state or territory do you live in?

Which state or territory do you live in?

New South Wales

New South WalesBuilt for New South Wales
Different states and territories have different rules and regulations. Your Living Will will be customised for New South Wales.

Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my territory not listed?If you live in the ACT or the Northern Territory, you must use an Enduring Power of Attorney to state your advance health care plan.If you live in Victoria, you can appoint an Attorney and a Medical Treatment Decision Maker in our Enduring Power of Attorney.

Last Updated February 27, 2024

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What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a legal document that lets you outline your health care preferences and values in case you’re incapacitated or cannot consent to your health care treatment.

In certain states and territories, a Living Will also lets you appoint a representative for when you can’t make or communicate medical decisions yourself. Other states require you to appoint a representative for your medical care in an Enduring Power of Attorney.

A Living Will is also known as an:

  • Advance care directive
  • Advance health directive
  • Advance directive
  • Appointment of guardian

What is an advance care directive?

Advance care directive is a more formal title for Living Will. In your Living Will document, you may see this title because Australia's states and territories have varying practices when naming health care documents.

Where can I use a Living Will in Australia?

LawDepot’s Living Will template allows you to create a document that’s enforceable in the following areas:

  • New South Wales (NSW)
  • Queensland (Qld)
  • South Australia (SA)
  • Tasmania (Tas)
  • Victoria (Vic)
  • Western Australia (WA)

Note that different states have varying requirements for what constitutes a Living Will.

If you live in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or the Northern Territory (NT), you can’t outline your health care preferences in your Living Will. Instead, use an Enduring Power of Attorney.

If you live in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, or Victoria, you can’t appoint someone to make health care decisions for you in your Living Will. Instead, use an Enduring Power of Attorney.

What do I include in a Living Will?

You can create a Living Will by using this template and providing the following:

1. Your information

As the creator of the Living Will, you are known as the principal. You must provide your name and address. In some states, you can also provide your phone number, email address, occupation, and date of birth.

2. Your representative’s information

If you choose, you can appoint a representative to make decisions for your medical and end-of-life care. Appointing a representative in your Living Will is only applicable in some states. Depending on which state you live in, this representative may be called a guardian, attorney, or substitute decision-maker.

This won’t apply to you if you live in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, or Victoria. You can’t appoint someone to make health care decisions for you in your Living Will in these states. Instead, create an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Once you’ve selected a representative, provide their name and address. In some states, you can also provide their phone number, occupation, and date of birth.

In some states, you may appoint an alternate representative in case your first choice isn’t available.

Who should I select as my representative?

Selecting a representative is a crucial part of creating your health care plan. In addition to being someone who you trust, your representative must be:

  • An adult who meets your state's requirements for a representative
  • Able to understand your health care preferences and end-of-life wishes
  • Someone who isn’t your doctor or part of your medical care team
  • Someone who will advocate for your best care

3. Your representative’s authority

Outline what kind of decisions you want your representative to make if you lose your capacity. Depending on your preferences, you may allow your representative to:

  • Decide where you live (e.g., your home or assisted living)
  • Decide what health care treatments you receive
  • Decide what other personal services you receive
  • Consent to your medical or dental treatments

In some jurisdictions, if you don’t provide any specific directions, your representative will have full powers to make your health care decisions should you lose capacity.

4. Your health care and end-of-life care preferences

Provide your preferences for life-prolonging medical treatments, such as:

  • CPR: If your heart stops or if you stop breathing and you aren’t expected to recover or have a bearable life, do you want someone to perform CPR on you?
  • Artificial ventilation: If you're not expected to recover, or your life is unbearable, do you want artificial ventilation?
  • Artificial nutrition and hydration: If you’re not expected to recover or your life is unbearable, do you want artificial nutrition and hydration?
  • Renal dialysis (kidney function replacement): If you’re not expected to recover or your life is unbearable, do you want renal dialysis?
  • Life-prolonging drugs: If you’re not expected to recover or your life is unbearable, do you want to be put on life-prolonging drugs?

In some states, instead of listing the treatments you want, simply state the health care that you don’t want and when (and in what circumstances) your refusals apply.

Depending on your state, you may also outline your end-of-life care preferences. These preferences allow you to express your desire to spend your end-of-life in a specific location, such as in your own home.

While you may specify instructions for various medical situations, keep in mind that health care providers must still act in accordance with your state laws.

5. Your values and beliefs

Depending on your state, you may also outline your values and beliefs in your Living Will. By doing so, you can communicate to your loved ones, doctors, and representatives if you want treatment in specific situations. For example, you may indicate whether you would want life-saving treatment in the following scenarios:

  • You can no longer recognise your family or loved ones
  • You no longer have control of your bladder or bowels
  • You cannot feed, wash, or dress yourself
  • You cannot move in or out of bed and rely on others to reposition you
  • You can no longer eat or drink by mouth
  • You cannot have a conversation because you don't understand what people are saying

To provide further insight for your loved ones, doctors, and representatives, you can also provide a statement of your values so they can honour your wishes. By including a statement of your values, you may provide answers to the following questions:

  • What matters most in your life?
  • What worries you most about your future?
  • What are the unacceptable outcomes of medical treatment after illness or injury?
  • If you are nearing death, what would be important to you?
  • When making decisions for you, what do you want people to consider?
  • Where do you wish to live?
  • What other personal arrangements would you prefer?
  • What are your dying wishes?

In Australia, the questions you answer in your values statement (or values directive) will vary from state to state.

Additionally, in some states, you may provide an advance statement of your beliefs and values. An advance statement is a description of your views and beliefs that you wish to be taken into account when someone is making health care decisions for you. While such a statement isn’t binding on medical professionals, it could provide them with the information they need to make decisions for you when you are no longer able to do so for yourself.

6. Your preferences for organ and tissue donation

You may specify your organ and tissue donation preferences when you die, including donating your body for educational or scientific research.

When can someone make medical decisions on my behalf?

Your appointed representative (known as your agent, guardian, attorney, or substitute decision-maker) can’t make medical decisions for you as long as you can still make your own decisions. Therefore, you can change your representative, update their powers, or cancel your Living Will at any time (while you have capacity).

What’s the difference between a Living Will and a Last Will?

If you are unable to express your health care wishes in the future, hospitals and family can reference your Living Will as a statement of your medical wishes. In other words, a Living Will only includes information about your medical care.

Alternatively, a Last Will and Testament outlines how you would like your assets divided or children cared for after your death. You cannot specify medical treatment preferences in a Last Will.

Why should I have a Living Will?

Having a Will can help you get the medical care you desire and save your loved ones from having to guess what your wishes are while navigating through a crisis or grief. Creating a Living Will:

  • Saves your family from having to guess what medical care you would want
  • Gives you more control and influence over your medical care
  • Allows you to discuss your treatment wishes with someone you trust before any unforeseen medical circumstance (if your Living Will includes the appointment of a representative)

Your loved ones may struggle to decide which treatments you would want for yourself in an emergency or crisis. Therefore, having a Living Will can help them know what you would want if you can’t tell them.

Also, if you don’t have a Living Will in place, laws may require doctors to perform procedures or provide treatment that you would not desire.

Who can make a Living Will?

The person who creates the Living Will is the principal. Upon creating a Living Will, the principal must have the capacity to make decisions about their personal care and welfare. In addition, the principal must meet the following requirements as well:

  • Must be mentally competent
  • Must be fully informed of treatment options for all possible medical outcomes
  • Cannot be unduly influenced by anyone else

Who should make a Living Will?

Living Wills aren't just for the elderly. All individuals over 18 years old should create one for themselves. Accidents and unexpected diagnoses can happen to anyone at any age, so it's important for all adults to create a Living Will.

However, certain individuals may feel more inclined to create a Living Will. This type of document is especially beneficial for someone with:

  • Deteriorating health
  • An upcoming hospitalisation or surgery
  • A diagnosis of a terminal disease or condition
  • A life-threatening injury

What happens if I don't have a Living Will?

If you haven’t created a Living Will and can’t make your own health care decisions, health care providers may ask your closest family members to make decisions regarding your treatment. In this case, a family member may use their substituted judgment on your behalf.

If you haven’t communicated your preferences to your loved ones and don’t have a Living Will, your family may have to guess what medical treatment you would want. Having to make medical decisions for someone during a crisis can be incredibly taxing. Therefore, creating a Living Will is imperative in easing the potential discomfort of your loved ones.

Where should I store my Living Will?

Store your completed and signed Living Will with your other estate planning documents. If you appoint a representative in your Living Will, you should provide them with a copy of your document.

You may also choose to give a signed copy of your Living Will to:

  • Your loved ones
  • Your assisted living facility
  • Your doctor, physician, or surgeon
  • Your hospital or health care facility

Related Documents:

Thumbail for sample of Living Will document


Living Will

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