Keep doing the things that make you happy
Written by Brooke Reardon, Wills & Estates Principal Lawyer.
Life can be uncertain and full of surprises. That is why it is important that we keep doing the things that make us happy in life such as playing music, spending time with our pets and enjoying our hobbies. It is important to listen to our bodies and consider the what ifs, no matter how confronting they may be.
If you would like to hold onto your passions even if your personal circumstances change, preparing an Advanced Care Health Directive and Power of Attorney documents will go a long way and provide you with a peace of mind.
Advanced Health Directives (Estate Planning)
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) is a document where you can give instructions about your future health care while you are living. An AHD comes into effect when you lose the capacity to make your own decisions which can occur for a range of different reasons including a brain injury or a disease such as Dementia. It can be as general or specific as you want it to be - from providing instructions if you have a terminal illness to whether you wish to be tube fed. An AHD can also be helpful where you have allergies, health conditions or religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs that could impact upon the health care you wish to receive.
It is important to note that with an Advanced Health Directive, you can request to continue your hobbies and hold onto your prized possessions under ‘personal arrangements’. Other requests can include ensuring that your hair and make-up is done when you are incapacitated.
In other states an Advanced Care Health Directive is also known as the following:
• Advanced Health Directive- QLD/ WA
• Enduring Power of Attorney- NSW
• Advanced Care Health Directive- SA/VIC
• Advanced Care Planning- NT
Power of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Attorney (Estate Planning)
Both documents appoint someone to manage your personal and financial affairs. The difference is that a Power of Attorney is used where you have capacity and you want someone to manage those things for you for a specified period. For example, if you are travelling overseas for 3 months and you want to appoint your Daughter to manage your finances while you are gone. In contrast, an Enduring Power of Attorney starts immediately and continues until revoked. An Enduring Power of Attorney is a document that you should have if you want to ensure that someone you trust will make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose capacity in the future. These decisions can include continuing certain hobbies, exercise routines or even treatments.
Preparing these legal documents will not only allow you to feel more in control of your personal affairs, but will also help guide your loved-ones with how you would like to be looked after if you were to lose capacity. There may be times a loved-one or caregiver may struggle to find meaningful and engaging activities for someone who is unwell. Having these documents in place will not only help reduce stress for your loved-ones and allow you to have a fulfilling life doing the activities you love, but will also ensure that your body, mind and soul is looked after.
For specific legal advice in relation to your personal situation, contacting a succession lawyer is advised.
 Department of Health, Head to Health, https://headtohealth.gov.au/meaningful-life/purposeful-activity/hobbies