Before documenting your plan in the Northern Territory, it’s important to have a good understanding of what advance care planning is and what’s involved in the advance care planning process.

On this page you can learn about the process and find the relevant forms to make an advance care directive.

Recording your choices

In the Northern Territory, you can record your choices for future health care, as well as financial and lifestyle matters in an Advance Personal Plan.

An Advance Personal Plan is a legal document and is also known as a living will. It will only take effect when you lose decision-making capacity while you are still alive. It does not replace your will.

In your Advance Personal Plan, you can:

  • write an instructional directive with legally binding instructions about future medical treatment you consent to or refuse
  • write a values directive which documents your values and preferences for your decision-maker to consider when making decisions for you
  • appoint a decision-maker

Medical treatment includes treatment for physical and mental conditions.

Appointing a decision-maker

You can appoint a trusted person to be your decision-maker.

This can be any of the following:

  • your spouse or partner
  • a parent
  • one of your adult children
  • a relative
  • a friend

You may want to appoint one or more adults to this role and you can appoint separate decision-makers for different purposes.

Your decision-maker can consent to or refuse treatment on your behalf. They must act in accordance with any lawful statement, decision or matters contained in your Advance Personal Plan. They must make the decision they believe you would make if you could make your own decision. For this reason, it is helpful to talk to them about what is important to you and any preferences you have.

Creating your plan

To create your plan, fill in the Advance Personal Plan form [PDF 154 KB].

The form has specific instructions which need to be followed. It also needs to be witnessed by an authorised witness. Options for who can be a witness are stated on the form.

Specific instructions

In your Advance Personal Plan, you can give specific instructions about certain medical treatments. You can also outline the quality of life that would be acceptable to you.

For example, you might ask that life-prolonging treatment - such as tube feeding or resuscitation - be withheld or withdrawn if you have:

  • a terminal illness with no known cure or chance of recovery
  • severe and irreversible brain damage, and you can’t communicate
  • a severe illness or injury that you’ll probably never recover from

Completing an advance care plan for someone else

If a person is no longer able to make or communicate their decisions, a family member or healthcare professional can document medical treatment preferences on a person’s behalf using the Advance care plan for a person with insufficient decision-making capacity form [PDF 620.78 KB].

This advance care plan isn’t legally binding but can be useful to inform care decisions, and should be taken into account.

Storing your plan

We recommend uploading your Advance Personal Plan to My Health Record.

You can also choose to register your plan with the Public Trustee to ensure there is a record on your file, although this is not mandatory.

To do this, fill in the Application to Register an Advance Personal Plan form [PDF 98 KB] and submit it to the Public Trustee.

It’s important that you share copies of your Advance Personal Plan with your decision-maker, family, friends, carers and your doctors. This will ensure everyone knows what you want.

You can also download and print a wallet card [PDF 117.46 KB] to let others know that you have an advance care directive.

Making changes and revoking documents

We recommend that you review your decisions and your plan regularly. This is particularly important if there is a change in your health, personal or living situation.

You can change your Advance Personal Plan as often as you like, or revoke it, as long as you have decision-making capacity. You can amend the plan by writing on the document or by creating a new one. You should let others know of any changes, and provide updated copies.

Multiple Advance Personal Plans can exist, however, when there are inconsistencies, the most recent plan will apply. It ends if you revoke it, it expires (if an expiry date is included) or you die.

Getting help

Contact our National Advance Care Planning Support ServiceTM on 1300 208 582 for more information and advice. We're available 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday (AEST).

Applicability in other states and territories

In general, a valid Advance Personal Plan will apply in other places in Australia, although there may be some limitations and additional requirements. Learn more about applicability in specific states and territories.

Legal information

For more in-depth legal information, read about advance care planning laws in the Northern Territory.

See also

Last updated: September 2023