A Living Will (and why your advanced care directive matters)

Clear, written health care directions are a gift to those who love you.

Most of us understand that our last Will and testament distributes our financial assets, but what about a Living Will and enduring guardianship? Your Living Will should be a clear, well-written health care directive that you can share with your loved ones, doctors and even place on your MyHealth record to ensure you're in full control of your health.

Your last Will and testament is a legal document outlining how you want any dependents cared for and your assets distributed. A Living Will - also known as a care plan or advanced care plan - is an ever-changing process of planning for your current and future health care needs. 

A Living Will involves talking about your values, beliefs and preferences with your loved ones and doctors. This helps others make decisions about your care if you can’t.  Ideally these conversations start while you are well and continue throughout your life. Everyone should consider advance care planning, regardless of your age or health.

It’s important that your family - and doctors - know which common medical treatments or care you want, which ones you want to avoid and under which conditions each of your choices applies.

What a Living Will does:

  • Nominates a substitute decision maker in case your are medically incapacitated
  • Outlines whether you want to donate organs  
  • Specifies what type of medical treatment you are happy to have. For example, do you agree with voluntary assisted dying protocols or not?
  • Can be uploaded to My Health Record, Australia’s digital health record system
  • Search ‘Advance Care Planning Australia’ to find out more.  

Read more about advanced planning on Citro.

 What your last Will and testament does:

  • Nominates guardians for your children
  • Appoints executors
  • Determine how assets will be distributed
  • Leaves specific gifts to loved ones and pets
  • Specifies your final wishes  such as whether you want to be buried or cremated
  • Include bequests to charities you care about
  • Can be left with your lawyers and family members or created online.

No one ever plans to be sick or incapacitated, yet planning for the future can make all the difference in an emergency or after being rocked by a shock diagnosis. Being prepared and having important documents in a single place can give you peace of mind, help ensure your wishes are honoured, and ease the burden on your loved ones at a stressful time.

Things to consider about your own Living Will - it's very personal

  • Do you want life-prolonging procedures administered or continued if there is no probability of your survival?
  • Do you want to give directions about what care you do or do not want (for example, dialysis, mechanical ventilation to assist with breathing, artificial hydration and nutrition or CPR).
  • Do you want to be an organ and tissue donor or donate your body to science or education.
  • What are your palliative care wishes, for example, do you you wish to die at home or in a special hospice?

The legalities of your Living Will - you'll need a 'substitute decision maker'

This is a person you trust who will speak for you if you reach a situation where you can’t speak for yourself. It’s usually a partner, an adult child or children, or best friend.

This designated decision maker has responsibility for your wellbeing when you’re incapacitated and can’t make decisions yourself, and in matters not covered by any formal Advance Care Directive. These might include lifestyle arrangements and where you live.

• Read about enduring guardianship in New South Wales

• Read about how to appoint a guardian or administrator in Victoria

• Read about the guardianship laws in Queensland

• Read about guardianship in South Australia

• Read about enduring guardians in Tasmania

• Read about enduring power of attorney in the Australian Capital Territory

• Read about enduring power of guardianship in Western Australia

• Read about advanced personal plans and power of attorney in Northern Territory

Resources to learn more and help plan your own Living Will


For more information visit the website or call 13 11 14 (24 hrs, 7 days a week).

Advance Care Planning Australia

Advance Care Planning Australia for more information visit the website or National Advance Care Planning Support ServiceTM on 1300 208 582 or email We’re available 9:00am - 5:00pm (AEST) Monday to Friday.National Advance Care Planning Support ServiceTM on 1300 208 582 or email We’re available 9:00am - 5:00pm (AEST) Monday to Friday.

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

OPAN provides free advocacy, information and education services to older people to effectively access and interact with Commonwealth funded aged care services. For more information visit the website or call 1800 700 600.

My Aged Care

My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s phone line and website to help people find information to access aged care services.For more information visit the website or call 1800 200 422.

My Health Record

My Health Record is an online summary of your key health information. When you have a My Health Record, your health information can be viewed securely online, from anywhere, at any time - even if you move or travel interstate. For more information visit or call the My Health Record helpline on 1800 723 471.

Carers Australia

There are carers associations throughout Australia that offer a range of support and services. For more information visit the website or call their helpline on 1800 242 636 (9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday).

Carer Gateway

Carer Gateway is a national service funded by the Australian Government for carers to access practical information and support. For more information visit the website or call 1800 422 737.

Carer Help

Carer Help is a website to help people in Australia who are taking care of a partner, relative or friend who is very unwell, to find information and helpful resources. Visit the website

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Free Citro member offer

All Citro members can create a free, legally binding online Will using our free Gathered Here online Will service.

You can create your Will in around 10 minutes online, and it's completely free thanks to the support of Gathered Here's charity partners. Read more about whether an online Will is right for you.

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