Appointing an Enduring Guardian
You may already have a plan in place for someone to manage your financial matters upon your passing or possible incapacitation, but have you considered who will make important decisions about your lifestyle and health should you become unable to do so, owing to cognitive impairment, illness or accident?
An Enduring Guardian is a person appointed by you who has the authority to make decisions that concern your medical, lifestyle, health and wellbeing, should you ever become incapable of making these significant decisions for yourself.
Enduring Guardian Appointment Form
To enable a person to legally act on your behalf in relation to all decisions regarding your lifestyle, health and wellbeing, you must appoint your nominated Enduring guardian(s) by completing an “Enduring Guardian Appointment Form”.
Once appointed, the Enduring Guardian Form provides for a number of functions or decisions that your Enduring Guardians may make on your behalf. When you sign the form, you can choose the types of functions or decisions that you would like your guardian to make on your behalf, should you lose the capacity to do so for yourself.
By way of examples, some of the decisions that an Enduring Guardian may make include: the type of medical treatment that you may receive (surgical procedures, physiotherapy, podiatry, palliative care, dental treatment, to name a few), where you may live (assisted living complexes, respite care, or aged care facility), the provision of any home care services that may assist you to live independently in your home, and even a choice of doctor or other health care providers.
You can appoint more than one Enduring Guardian. Your Enduring Guardians may act jointly, severally, or jointly and severally.
Should you appoint your Enduring Guardians to act jointly, they are required to act on your behalf together, and as such, they must jointly agree on any decision to be made on your behalf regarding your care and lifestyle needs.This may become an issue, should one of your “jointly appointed” Enduring Guardians pass away, become incapacitated, or wishes to resign.
Further, if considering this structure, you would need to appoint people who can communicate well, and who can cooperate with each other. Potentially, this structure could result in some very heated discussions amongst your Enduring Guardians, in circumstances where they cannot agree about matters affecting your lifestyle, or medical health.
You may appoint Enduring Guardians to make decisions on your behalf ‘severally’, or ‘independently’ of your other guardians. Essentially, if you appoint your Enduring Guardians to act severally, they can make decisions on your behalf without needing to act together, or be in complete agreement with the other Enduring Guardians.
Jointly and severally:
You may choose to appoint your Enduring Guardians to act jointly and severally. In relation to any decisions regarding your medical, health or lifestyle needs, your guardians can act either together or independently.
This structure may be beneficial in circumstances where one Enduring Guardian cannot be reached if they have travelled interstate or overseas for example, or for any other reason in circumstances where they are not in a position to act.
Who do you appoint?
It is very important that you think carefully about who you choose to make decisions about your long-term health, medical treatment, and where you may live. An Enduring Guardian must always act in your best interests. It is a position of trust. Enduring Guardians have the power to act on your behalf in terms of any ‘end of life’ medical treatment that you may need. Further, your Enduring Guardians must be able to cooperate with one another, and have an understanding of the level care that you would like to receive as you journey toward the end of your life.
If you would like to appoint an Enduring Guardian, do not hesitate to speak to Anne-Alece at Northern Rivers Law on: (02) 6669 1071