The laws relating to medical treatment decision-making are about to change significantly with the commencement of the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (the Act).
The Act aims to consolidate and streamline existing laws so that all aspects of current and future medical treatment decision-making for people lacking the capacity to make decisions will be dealt with exclusively under the new Act.
On 1 November 2017 new intestacy rules come into force. These changes significantly affect the rights and entitlements of partners and children whose loved ones die without leaving a valid Will. These rules will also have the effect of increasing the likelihood of a deceased’s assets passing to the State, where there is no valid Will or close relatives.
The law is constantly evolving to meet the needs of modern couples and blended families. Sweeping changes have been proposed to the Victorian rules for distributing estate assets where a person dies without a valid Will. Under the proposed regime, if a person dies leaving more than one partner but no valid Will, each partner will have no guarantee of receiving assets under the estate.
The Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 will come into operation on 12 March 2018. Under this new regime, individuals will be able to make Advance Care Directives giving binding instructions, and indicating their values and preferences, for future medical treatment.