Planning Ahead

The key to providing long-term support for people with decision-making disabilities to plan ahead and understand how the Guardianship and Administration system can best support you and your loved one’s needs.
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There are two main types of substitute decision-makers:

  • a guardian – guardianship applies to personal, lifestyle and medical treatment decision-making
  • an administrator – administration applies to financial and legal decision-making.

There are three main types of decision:

  • Personal and lifestyle decisions – For example when arranging new support services, activities or accommodation, if the adult with the decision-making disability, family, and professionals are all in agreement that this is in the person’s best interests, the decision could be made informally.
  • Medical treatment decisions – The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 sets out an order of people who can make treatment decisions for a person when the treating health professional says they cannot make the decision themselves because they lack the capacity to provide informed consent to treatment. This order can be seen as a ‘Hierarchy of treatment decision-makers’.  For more information on the 'Hierarchy of treatment decision-makers' see the Making treatment decisions page.
  • Financial decisions - Informal processes are more limited with financial decisions because most organisations which deal with money and contracts want to see a formal authority before they will talk to someone about another person’s finances. This might be because the information is confidential and they want to make sure that they do not talk to the wrong person.  You may be able to work with some companies to find informal ways of managing a bank account, or to receive a Centrelink payment on behalf of an adult with a decision-making disability, but it is more likely that you will need to make an application for administration at some point.  Refer to Information Sheet 5: Administration for more information.

For more information on guardianship and administration, refer to Information Sheet 1: The Guardianship and Administration System.