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We’ve all heard these words thrown around before… “Go get a Will” or “Have you got an Advance Care Directive in place?” But what estate planning document actually does what? Here is our quick guide to estate planning documents.


A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your instructions for the distribution of your assets after your passing. It is important to have a legally valid, clearly drafted and up-to-date Will to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Every adult should have a Will. However, 45% of Australians have been found not to have a valid Will. Without one, you are considered intestate and therefore the law will dictate who inherits your assets – whether you want them to or not.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document which assigns authority to any chosen person (the ‘attorney’) to do things with your financial assets. This can include managing or spending money, buying or selling shares, or buying, selling, leasing, or mortgaging real estate for you. This power is limited to legal and financial matters.

There are two types of Powers of Attorney:

  1. A General Power of Attorney operates only whilst you have capacity. It is useful for short term appointment, such as if you were going overseas for a couple of months and wanted someone to take care of your finances while you were away. They are also preferable for one off transactions such as buying a property on your behalf.
  2. An Enduring Power of Attorney continues to operate after you have lost mental capacity to manage your legal and financial matters. This arrangement is usually used for long term decision making power.

Both types can be tailored to meet your circumstances and you may like to include certain limitations or directions.

Enduring Guardian

An Enduring Guardian is legal document which assigns someone of your choice to make lifestyle, health and medical decisions for you if you no longer have capacity. This can include decisions such as where you will live or medical treatment you receive.

It is common to equip your Enduring Guardian with an Advance Care Directive to give them guidance when required to make difficult medical decisions for you.

Advance Care Directive

An Advance Care Directive, otherwise known as ‘A Living Will’, is a legal document which provides clear directions as to your wishes about medical treatment should you no longer have capacity to make the decision yourself. This could occur because you have a sudden accident or serious mental health episode, dementia, a sudden serious stroke, or you are unconscious or in a coma.

It is important your loved ones know your wishes on medical procedures such as resuscitation and artificial life mechanisms.

I Need These for Me!

This suite of legal documents ensures your health, wellbeing, financial security and future wishes are taken care of and done so according to your wishes.

At Gowland Legal we specialise in providing well drafted, quality estate planning documents tailored to all your individual needs. We assist you throughout the process and provide unparalleled advice in considering what you want in the worst-case scenarios. Facing your own mortality can be an incredibly confronting and hard experience and you will need an experienced guide to make sense of the legal jargon.

At Gowland Legal we ensure your final wishes are honoured.

Give us a call on 02 9569 3000 or send us an email at for more information.