Advance care planning is about your future health care. It gives you the opportunity to plan for what you would want or not want, if you become unable to make or communicate your own preferences.

The following outlines the legal requirements, forms and fact sheets in New South Wales (NSW):

Frequently asked questions

Advance care planning and the law

To make medical decisions, you must have decision-making capacity. If illness or serious injury (temporary or permanent) prevents you from making decisions about your health care, advance care planning makes sure that your values, beliefs and preferences for treatment and care are understood and respected. Completed and accessible Advance Care Directive documentation allows you to be heard and is important to your treating team and others.
Advance care planning is an ongoing process with a number of steps.

Be open

  • Think and talk about your values, beliefs and preferences for current and future health care.
  • Choose a substitute decision-maker: someone you trust to speak for you if you became very sick and couldn’t speak for yourself. Ask them if they are prepared to be your substitute decision-maker.

Be ready

  • Talk about your values, beliefs and preferences with your substitute decision-maker and other people involved in your care such as family, friends, carers and doctors.
  • Write your preferences and/or appoint your substitute decision-maker using the recommended Advance Care Directive document(s).

Be heard

  • Share your Advance Care Directive documentation with your substitute decision-maker, family, friends, carers and your doctors. This will help ensure everyone knows what you want.
  • Upload your completed documents to your My Health Record.
  • Review your plan regularly and update it as needed.

If you become unable to make decisions about your own health care, a substitute decision-maker will make decisions on your behalf.

Your substitute decision-maker may be:

  • Chosen and appointed by you
  • Appointed for you by a guardianship tribunal n Identified for you by a default list under legislation.

Your substitute decision-maker is the first of the following who is available, willing and able to make decisions:

1. An enduring guardian(s) appointed by you.

2. A guardian appointed by the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal to make decisions about your medical treatment.

3. The first of the following (person responsible):

a. Your spouse or partner where there is a close and continuing relationship

b. Your unpaid carer

c. A friend or relative who has a close personal relationship, frequent contact and a personal interest in your welfare.

In New South Wales, the substitute decision-maker appointed by you is an enduring guardian.

You may want to choose and appoint one or more adults to this role. To do this, you need to complete the Appointment of enduring guardianship form. The form has specific requirements for completion and witnessing. Your chosen enduring guardian must accept this role by signing the form.

Your enduring guardian can consent to or refuse treatment on your behalf. They must act in accordance with any lawful directions contained in the form. 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.

In your Advance Care Directive, you can write:

  • An instructional directive with legally binding instructions about future medical treatment you consent to or refuse
  • A values directive which documents your values and preferences for your substitute decision-maker to consider when making decisions for you
  • Details of your person(s) responsible or enduring guardian(s).

Medical treatment includes treatment for physical and/ or mental conditions. You can use a form or similar when completing your Advance Care Directive. It is preferable that this document is signed and dated. Commonly, these documents also include details regarding your organ donation status.

Prior to completing an Advance Care Directive, you should read the booklet Making an Advance Care Directive, New South Wales Health.

Upload your completed enduring guardian form and your Advance Care Directive to your My Health Record.

We recommend that you review your decisions and documents regularly. This is particularly important if there is a change in your health, personal or living situation. You can update your Advance Care Directive or your appointment of an enduring guardian at any time providing you still have decision-making capacity.

Your Advance Care Directive ends when you complete a new Advance Care Directive, you revoke it, it expires (if an expiry date is included) or you die. You should let others know of any changes, and provide updated copies.

Your enduring guardian appointment(s) ends if you revoke it, if the people appointed are unable to act, resign their appointment, or if you die.

In general, a valid Advance Care Directive will apply in other places in Australia, although there may be some limitations and additional requirements. Similarly, an appointment of enduring guardian will usually apply, but there is variation in the laws within Australia.

It is recommended that you obtain specific advice from the Office of the Public Advocate or equivalent in the relevant state or territory.

If you are permanently moving state or territory, it is recommended you update your documentation using the recommended form(s) in consultation with your doctor and substitute decision-maker.


Advance care planning forms

  • Form

    Making an Advance Care Directive (NSW)

    NSW Government

    This package includes an Advance Care Directive form and Information Booklet, and is one of many advance care planning and end of life resources available for use for those living in NSW.
  • Form

    Appointment of Enduring Guardian (NSW)

    NSW Government

    As part of your advance care plan, you can legally appoint a substitute decision-maker under the Guardianship Act 1987. The Appointment of Enduring Guardian form is required to choose a substitute decision-maker in New South Wales.
  • Form

    Notice of Resignation as Enduring Guardian (NSW)

    NSW Government

    A substitute decision-maker can resign by giving written notice using this form to the person who appointed them. This form can only be used if the appointor still has the capacity to make personal decisions. Otherwise, the substitute decision-maker can only resign with approval from the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal.
  • Form

    Revocation of Appointment of Enduring Guardian (NSW)

    NSW Government

    View this form to revoke your appointment of an Enduring Guardian in New South Wales.


Supporting information, guides and checklists

  • Research & Publications

    Enduring Guardianship in New South Wales

    Public Guardian

    Enduring guardianship is a legal tool that allows you to choose your future health and lifestyle decision-maker. The booklet also contains the forms you will need to appoint or revoke and enduring guardian, or to resign as an enduring guardian.

Fact sheets

Advance care planning fact sheets

  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning and the law: NSW

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This fact sheet is for individuals, providing an overview about advance care planning and New South Wales (NSW) law.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for individuals and family

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for individuals and their families.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for substitute decision-makers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for substitute decision-makers.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning and legal requirements: NSW

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    This factsheet for health professionals gives specific information about advance care planning and New South Wales (NSW) law.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for care workers

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for care workers.
  • Fact sheet

    Advance care planning fact sheet for healthcare professionals

    Advance Care Planning Australia

    Information about advance care planning for healthcare professionals.