There are laws in each State and Territory about what happens if a person is incapable of looking after their personal and/or financial affairs. For personal management issues such as health care and accommodation decisions, a guardian can be appointed. For financial matters, a financial manager can be appointed to look after property banking and money management.
It is possible to make a personal choice of guardian as well as financial manager, at any stage of adult life up to the time incapacity occurs. Choice of guardian is made by signing an appointment of enduring guardian. Choice of financial manager is made by an enduring power of attorney. In each case it is usual to state that the authority of the delegated person will continue, even though the person appointing may become incapable or disabled physically or mentally. These are examples of voluntary delegation of personal authority.
If there is no pre-existing document of appointment, an application may need to be made to the Board or Tribunal appointed under the law of each State or Territory for the necessary orders.
It sometimes happens that application for guardianship and financial management is made against the wishes of the person concerned. Family members may feel themselves compelled to take action to protect their relative from themselves or from others. It is to avoid the unpleasant nature of such application that many people make their own choice well in advance of such difficulties, and appoint their own delegate( by the appointment of their own enduring guardian and by enduring power of attorney). Such documents are usually prepared by the person’s own solicitor.
There is another kind of advance decision which is sometimes made in relation to medical treatment choices and end of life decisions. Since medical treatment must always have consent of the patient, it is also possible to describe circumstances under which certain treatments may be refused or declined in advance. An example of such a decision would be to state that in the event of diagnosis of late stage terminal cancer, resuscitation in the event of cardiac arrest should not be attempted. Such instructions are called advance medical directives and sometimes, living wills. Any person contemplating making such directives, should obviously consult their doctor, family and lawyer.