Darwin Community Legal Service

An Advance Personal Plan (APP) is a legal document that sets out your wishes for your future if you lose your decision-making ability. It is commonly known as a ‘Living Will’ and replaces the former ‘enduring power of attorney’.

An APP ensures your wishes are respected if you become unable to make decisions for yourself. This could happen due to age, illness, an accident, or other life-altering event.


Who can make an APP?

Any adult (at least 18 years old) that does not have an appointed guardian (under the Guardianship of Adults Act); and who has the ability to make decisions.

To have decision making capacity, you must be able to:

  • Understand and retain information
  • Assess information to make decisions, and
  • Communicate that decision


What can an APP include?

What to include in your plan is your choice and can include your instructions about any of the following:

  • your health care
  • lifestyle needs such as living arrangements, diet, entertainment and clothing
  • your finances
  • who you want to make decisions

If you change your mind about your plan you can amend it or cancel it at any time, as long as you have decision-making capacity.


There are three parts to the Advance Personal Plan. You do not have to fill out all three of them, but it is important that you read them carefully. They are:

Advance Care Statement

This is a statement about your choices and how you want someone to act if they make decisions for you. This covers day to day living matters e.g. how you want to be dressed, your diet, accommodation, employment, education, health care, cultural or spiritual requests, financial issues management of assets or property ownership.

Advance Consent Decisions

These are legally binding on your health care provider and can include decisions about organ transplants, palliative care, instructions not to be put on life support, or directions about not receiving blood transfusions.
Doctors and medical professionals must follow your instructions on any future health care and medical treatment.


You can appoint one or more decision-makers and different decision-makers for different purposes e.g. someone to manage your health and lifestyle and another to manage your finances and should be someone you trust with these decisions.  A decision-maker appointed under an APP is not allowed to make, change or cancel an APP.


When does an APP take effect?

An APP starts when you make it and remains until the period stated ends, or you need to amend or cancel it. The Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal also has the power to amend or revoke an APP in some circumstances.


Impact on a Power of Attorney and a Will

An APP does not impact on a Power of Attorney (POA). A POA only applies while you still have decision-making capacity.


What if I have an Enduring Power of Attorney?

APPs are intended to replace Enduring Powers of Attorney. An Enduring POA could only be validly made up until 17 March 2014. Documents made up to and including this date will remain valid and in force, unless they are revoked.


How can I make an APP?

  1. Start a conversation with your family members and/or trusted friends to discuss questions, concerns and decisions you are making.
  2. Obtain an APP form from the Northern Territory Office of the Public Trustee or from their website at https://nt.gov.au/law/rights/advance-personal-plan.
  3. Finalise the APP and have it witnessed by an authorised witness (such as a Commissioner of Oaths or Police Officer).
  4. Register your APP with the Public Trustee of the Northern Territory. This is voluntary but makes it easier to find if your decision makers or medical professionals want to check if you have one.
  5. Update your eHealth record if your APP includes health care.
  6. If you have appointed a decision-maker who can make decisions relating to real estate or land, that section of your APP must be registered with the Northern Territory Land Titles Office, otherwise the Land Titles Office will not recognise that authority.
  7. Store your APP somewhere safe and give a certified copy to your decision-maker if applicable.



Useful contacts

Darwin Community Legal Service Inc
Phone:  (08) 8982 1111
Freecall: 1800 812 953
Email:  info@dcls.org.au


NT Office of the Public Trustee
Phone: (08) 8999 7271


Commonwealth My Health Record
Phone: 1800 723 471


Darwin Community Legal Service 2019: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at JANUARY 2019.