The planning process
Planning for your future decision-making is about your important right, as an adult, to make your own decisions.
For this reason, only you can plan for your future decision-making.
No one else has the right to do this type of planning for you, although others can support you.
Taking time to work through the steps below is a good place to start.
Think about what is important to you
This is easiest to do while you are well.
For example, you may value:
- living in your own home
- maintaining connections with family and close friends
- retaining links to your community
- specific activities.
Know your options
Under the law in Victoria, you can:
- appoint someone to support you to make decisions - see Appointing a person to support you in making decisions >>
- appoint a person (or people) to make medical, lifestyle or financial decisions for you in the future, if you do not have decision-making capacity to make a specific decision - see Appointing a medical treatment decision maker and Making an enduring power of attorney
- include information for the people you appoint, or instructions or conditions
- make decisions in advance about medical treatment you consent to or refuse - see Making an advance care directive.
You may choose to make use of some, all or none of these.
Take the time to think about them, talk to others, and seek advice if you need to.
Let those close to you know what is important to you
Regardless of whether you choose to make use of any of the options, it is important people close to you understand what you value and your wishes. If they know this, it will help make sure decisions are made as you would want in the future.
If there is no one suitable to share thisc information with, it can nevertheless be helpful to write down your values and wishes. If someone who doesn't know you, such as Victoria’s Public Advocate, needs to make a decision for you in the future, this information will be helpful.
Starting the conversation
Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. The following organisations have information and resources that can help you with this:
Think about who you will choose
If you decide to appoint a person, or people, who will have legal authority to make decisions for you, think about what qualities are important to you. For example, you may want someone who:
- is willing to listen to, and act on, your wishes rather than their own
- is trustworthy
- has the skill and time required
- is willing to take on the role with all its responsibilities
- can communicate effectively and is willing to consult with others
- understands and respects your culture and connections with your community
- can manage property and money well.
Risks and safeguards
While the majority of appointments work well, sometimes things go wrong.
It may be that the person you thought you could trust to act for you does not keep on top of your needs, or misuses your money.
You can reduce this risk. The guide You Decide Who Decides, available on the OPA website, has tips on how to do this.
If things do go wrong, there are steps you and others can take to stop this, such as applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
If you do not appoint anyone
It is your choice whether to appoint someone who will have legal authority to make decisions for you. For example, there may be no one suitable, or you think you will be able to make decisions into the future if you have support.
There are safeguards if you do not appoint someone. The law in Victoria specifies who can make a medical treatment decision for you if you are unable to make the decision (see Identifying the medical treatment decision maker).
No one has automatic legal authority to make other types of decisions for you (such as about your finances or where you live). However, VCAT can appoint someone, if necessary.
An ongoing process
The planning process is ongoing. Your circumstances and wishes may change.
If you make legal documents, it is a good idea to review these at least every two years.