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Being Prepared

A reader with children wonders what legal documents are needed to make sure all her affairs are in order in the event of an accident or unforeseen calamity.

QUESTION:

I am relatively young, fit, healthy, and settled in a de facto relationship with children.

I want to do the right thing by my family and make sure all my affairs are in order in the event of an accident or some other unforeseen calamity, medical or otherwise. I have a will. What else do I need?

I know there are other legal documents but I’m not sure what they’re called, except I heard there had been a change in legislation recently so they might have new names anyway.

I don’t have fixed views on medical care, I would want doctors to do whatever they thought necessary to make me well again. I just want to make it easy on my partner if he had to take charge of everything.

ANSWER:

There have been changes recently.

A new document called Advance Care Directives replaces Enduring Powers of Guardianship, Medical Powers of Attorney and Anticipatory Directions. By signing this document people can give a directive as to their future health care, residential and accommodation matters and personal affairs. They can also elect to appoint one or more persons to be their substitute decision-maker.

This document and supporting information may be obtained online from www.advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au

The Advance Care Directives can also provide for binding decisions related to end of life such as the withholding or withdrawal of medical treatment including life sustaining measures.

The Advance Care Directives does not cover financial and property matters. These still need to be dealt with by a Power of Attorney.

Those who executed various documents prior to the new Advance Care Directives need not be concerned. The older documents continue to apply and do not need to be changed.

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