Estate planning

Estate planning can help to ensure your brother or sister with disability’s wishes are adhered to, and their assets are protected. It is also a means of securing the wishes of your brother or sister’s parent (or parents) when future planning.

Estate planning means setting up legal documents and plans to manage your own or someone else’s finances and wishes in case of illness, incapacity or death. If your brother or sister’s parents are still alive, it’s important to talk to them about this to ensure they have the right arrangements in place for your brother or sister with disability. 

While we are not qualified to provide legal advice, we are able to share useful resources and information to help you prepare for discussions with your appointed lawyer or estate planner.

Understand your brother or sister’s estate planning options

Estate planning with or for your brother or sister (and possibly your parents too) starts with working out what type of estate planning support is best for them. There are several different approaches, and each one is suited to a different situation.

Powers of attorney

Powers of attorney are legal documents that allow a person to choose who will make decisions about their financial and personal matters if they are not able to make their own.

The person giving the power is called the ‘principal’. The person who is granted the power to act is called the ‘attorney’.

Under this arrangement the principal can still manage their own affairs and should do so (or be supported to do so) wherever possible.

There are three types of powers.

General non-enduring powers of attorney

This is for help with legal and financial matters and decision making. It continues until the principal either revokes (cancels) the power or loses the legal capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Supportive powers of attorney

This is for help with decision making. It continues until the principal either revokes (cancels) the power or loses the legal capacity to make decisions for themselves.

General enduring powers of attorney

This is for help with financial, legal matters and personal decision making. It continues after the principal is unable to make decisions on their own.

Special Disability Trust

A special disability trust can be established to plan for the future care and accommodation needs of a person with severe disability within a legal framework. A special disability trust is usually created to assist immediate family members to make financial provisions for the care of a person with severe disability.

Advance Care Directive

An advance care directive allows a person to record their wishes, preferences and instructions for future health care, end of life, living arrangements and personal matters and appoints substitute decision maker/s to make these decisions on their behalf. An advance care directive gives people a clear understanding of their needs and wishes should they lose the ability to communicate them for themselves. An advance care directive is separate to an enduring power of attorney and replaces an enduring power of guardianship, medical power of attorney and anticipatory directives. (There may be multiple legal options available to you and your brother or sister than those we have detailed here. We recommend that you contact a lawyer or estate planner to discuss all options that are available/appropriate for your circumstances).

What you can do

Understand and facilitate supported decision-making for a person with disability

Every person has the right to make their own decisions, but sometimes, we need support. When someone needs help to make decisions, it’s called supported decision-making. And is based on making decisions with someone not for them.

Support with decision-making can come from family, friends, and other peers. Support can also come from service providers or other people, such as advocates. Supported decision making looks different for each person.


Easy Read & video

The Council for Intellectual Disability has created information about supported decision-making for people with intellectual disability. It’s called ‘I can make decisions’ and includes a downloadable two-page Easy Read document in pdf format, and a three-minute video.


Guide to NDIS decision-making

The Victorian Office
for the Public Advocate’s ‘Guide to NDIS decision-making’ and explores when a decision can be made by, with or for an adult with significant cognitive disability.


Lived experience video

Check out this NDIS
video where Luke from Inclusion Australia talks about supported decision-making
for people with disability.

Establish a Circle of Support for a person with disability

It is important to remember that there are alternatives to seeking formal legal orders (which might include guardianship and administration), such as establishing a Circle of Support to support you and your brother or sister with decision making.

A Circle of Support involves a group of people in your brother or sister’s life, who they know and trust, coming together to support formulating, promoting and achieving the goals of a person with disability. The circle acts as a community to support and provide practical advice, solve problems and generate creative ideas to contribute positively to a person’s life.



A Circle of Support for a person with disability can be whatever you make of them.




A Microboard is a similar concept to a Circle of Support but is legally incorporated to become a not-for-profit organisation that supports just one person. A Circle of Support often progresses to become a formalised Microboard.

Complete our personal profiles for future sibling planning

To ensure you can support your brother or sister to make important life decisions that are right for them, it’s important that you first ensure you understand what they want, what is important to them, and how they see themselves living their life for the foreseeable future.

That’s why we’ve created two helpful personal profile documents – a personal profile for your brother or sister, and a personal profile for you. Completing these profiles will help you to gain clarity on their wants and needs, keep track of relevant information and decisions, and enable you to reflect and plan ahead. It’s something you can do with your brother or sister, and you might even find it fun!

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