Advance Care Planning


ACP is a general concept encapsulating the choices you would make in later life. There is also a form by the same name which is a non-binding ‘wish-list’ of those choices. It is not the same as an ‘advance health directive’ which is a statutory instrument and legally binding if properly executed by someone with mental capacity at the time of signing.

DON’T BE DAUNTED: if you believe that you should be able to make your own end of life choices, it is vitally important to take steps to ensure those choices are respected.


Think about what you want. Many people are reluctant to spend too much time thinking about what they would like as they age and perhaps become more mentally and physically infirm, but this does not have to be either arduous or gloomy.

Once you have the basics in place, this can give you a sense of control and peace of mind that you have clearly articulated your wishes about what should happen in relation to your life choices as you get older and what treatment you consent or do not consent to should you become seriously ill, and what should happen to your estate when you die. It will also assist your family and your health practitioners to know and understand what you want and to respect your wishes. There are 4 documents you should consider signing now, and update from time to time as circumstances change.

  1. A will
  2. An advance health directive (not an ACP)
  3. An enduring power of guardianship (EPG)
  4. An enduring power of attorney. (EPA)

Very generally:

You must have legal capacity when you sign each of these documents - in other words you must be able to understand the nature and effect of what you are signing.

A will takes effect only when you die.

An AHD takes effect when you do not have the ability to make decisions for yourself. This ability may come and go, for instance if you are unconscious for any reason but then regain consciousness and mental capacity, or in certain types of illness where cognitive capacity may be intermittent.

For an EPG and EPA, you can stipulate in the document when it is to effective.

More information including comprehensive FAQs about each of these can be found under Resources/Workshops at [link]. If you are unsure about anything in relation to any of these, DWDWA may be able to help you if you telephone or email us. Contact information is provided under the Contact tab on this website.


We have produced a sample Advance Health Directive (AHD) as a guide which can be viewed here. 


Some of you may already have signed a living will. This is also an effective way of communicating your wishes about treatment if you have lost the capacity to do so yourself.

An AHD will override a Living Will if you have both and they are inconsistent in any respect.