Update Your Estate Planning Documents When You Move Interstate

The validity of these estate planning documents when you move interstate can vary so make sure to update where needed.
Update Your Estate Planning Documents When You Move Interstate

Most people will update their estate planning documents after major life changes like buying a house, having children or getting married. However, it’s important to update your estate planning documents when you move interstate. 

Although the legality of a Will won’t change when across Australia, moving is generally a good time to review its contents. Other estate planning documents can vary across Australia and may need adjustment, for example, enduring power of attorney or an advance care directive. 


Typically, a Will holds its validity across state lines. However, any major life update such as an interstate move is cause for reviewing your Will. When understanding where to make changes, consider these four things: 

Executor: The executor of your estate must act under the relevant state-based legislation. Plus, when it’s time to manage and administer your estate, the process can take months, so being close to the majority of your assets and beneficiaries can help. 

Property: If you’ve moved to a new state because you bought a new property, now is the right time to update your Will. If you’ve also sold the last property you lived in and want to leave money behind to beneficiaries, you should include this asset. 

Beneficiaries: No matter where you live when you write your Will, your beneficiaries can be located in different states. However, make sure to update the location of your assets and important information like your address with your life insurance and super fund. 

Last wishes: If your last wishes, such as where you want your funeral or your ashes to be scattered, are specific to the location you’re leaving, then you’ll want to update these specifics. 

Enduring Power of Attorney vs Enduring Guardian

An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to nominate a person or people to act on your behalf relating to legal and financial matters. On the other hand, an Enduring Power of Guardianship is a legal document that allows you to nominate a person or people to act on your behalf relating to important medical and personal decisions.

In some states in Australia, all legal, financial, and personal decisions fall under an EPOA. However, personal and medical decisions can fall under a different legal documents depending on where you’re moving.

Here is how legal, financial, medical and personal decision-makers vary in Australia: 

  • Victoria: An EPOA makes all legal, financial and personal decisions. But, the appointment of a medical decision-maker (AMDM) is necessary for medical decisions.
  • New South Wales: Enduring Guardian makes all personal and medical decisions.
  • Queensland: EPOA applies to all legal, financial, personal and medical decisions.
  • South Australia: EPOA applies to all legal and financial decisions, and an Advance Care Directive applies to all personal and medical decisions.
  • Tasmania: All legal and financial decisions are by an EPOA, and all personal and medical decisions are by an enduring guardian.
  • ACT: AN EPOA makes all decisions.
  • Western Australia: An EPOA makes all legal and financial decisions, but personal and medical decisions need an enduring power of guardianship.

Advance Care Directive 

An advance care directive (ACD) is a formalised record that allows you to outline your wishes and preferences for future medical care and end-of-life treatment. The document will usually include the need, values and preferences of any future care for medical reasons, including a nominated medical treatment decision-maker. 

Is an Advance Care Directive different in each state?

ACD is called different things in each state, so it should be modified when you move interstate. In addition, the specifics of the decision making vary slightly differently depending on where you live. Here is how the advance care directive applies across Australia: 

  • Victoria, NSW, South Australia and Tasmania use an advance care directive.
  • Queensland and Western Australia use an advance health directive.
  • The ACT uses a health direction. 

Generally, an advance health directive will deal with your medical preferences only but not give someone the ability to make decisions on your behalf. For example, medical decisions come under an appointment of a medical decision-maker (AMDM) in Victoria. 

An AMDM allows you to legally choose a person to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. However, if you have an ACD and an AMDM, the medical decision-maker must comply with the directive.

Wrap Up 

Your move is the perfect time to make any updates to your estate planning documents in order. Even if the laws in your new state won’t affect your estate, it's still a good time to update addresses, numbers and contact details for important accounts relating to your estate. 

Investing a little time now to start your Will and plan your estate will save your loved ones any hassle later.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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