Step 2.2

How do I get legal permission to act on someone’s behalf?

Acting on someone else's behalf

Whether you are making your own aged care plans or you are acting on behalf of someone else, you should have some important legal arrangements in place.  

You will either:

  • give permission to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to make decisions yourself


  • obtain permission to act and make decisions on another person’s behalf

Many people need to consult a legal practitioner to put the arrangements in place that allow someone else to make certain important decisions on their behalf, should they lose the capacity to make those decisions themselves.

It is important to have thought about this and made the arrangements for substitute decision makers before the need potentially arises.

Some people put these arrangements in place years before they ever think they could need them.  Even if you have done that, you should review your documents now in case things have changed. 

What is 'capacity'?

We make decisions for ourselves all our adult lives and we expect to continue to make our own decisions, regardless of our age.

But there are some situations and certain kinds of decisions where it may not be possible; particularly if we become unwell.  In legal terms, your ability to make important decisions yourself is referred to as your ‘capacity’.

You are considered to have the capacity to make decisions if you can:

  • understand the facts involved 
  • understand the main choices
  • weigh up the consequences of the choices 
  • understand how the consequences affect you


  • communicate your decision

It is rare for someone to not have capacity for any decision making at all – usually only if they are unconscious or have a severe cognitive disability.

The kinds of decisions where it is important to have 'capacity are when your health, independence, or financial situation might be put at risk. e.g. you want to have capacity to make a decision about selling your home or having a major medical treatment or operation.

Types of legal representatives

There are several different types of legal representatives you can appoint as your substitute decision makers, depending on what roles and responsibilities you want them to have.  

There is some variation in the terms and titles used in different states and territories but the main roles include:


  • Nominee

These roles are explained in detail in the next section - 2.3 Your substitute decision makers

Top Tip

If you are acting in a decision making role for someone else who needs aged care, you should ensure you have copies of the relevant documentation proving your legal status.

Have a question? Open our discussion forum

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening!

Retirement villages without exit fees? They’re happening! Now, some of Australia’s largest retirement village operators are looking at new ways to pay for retirement villages that don’t include exit fees – indeed, there are calls for some exit fees to be banned.

Article Img
What sort of profits do retirement village owners make?

The number of Australians over the age of 75 is expected to increase by 70% over the next six years. The number of Australians over the age of 80 is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million over the next 40 years. As the number of older people in Australia surges, so too does demand for age-appropriate housing – such as retirement villages, which offer an affordable lifestyle, community, and ongoing health and wellness support.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

Article Img
What is the Future of Rental Retirement Villages?

Across Australia there are approximately 300 rental retirement villages – but few more are likely to be built, which is an unfortunate situation for older Australians. Rental retirement villages operate much like normal rentals, but they offer older Australian with limited financial means the opportunity of housing security, health and lifestyle support, and a welcoming and safe community.

Article Img
This is the food that you can get in residential aged care

Uniting NSW.ACT is aware of the criticism that is often levelled at the food served in residential aged care homes. The Not For Profit is passionate about the food served to residents and determined that as well meeting residents’ nutrition needs, their food looks and tastes delicious and as well as catering to their individual desires as much as possible.

A special thanks to our contributors

Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.