When you should review your Will, and why

Firstly, if you are reading this article, that means you already have a Will and for that your family will thank you. Having a valid Will eases the grieving process for your loved ones.

However, having a Will isn’t something that should be done and never to be thought of again. At best, an outdated Will does not accurately reflect your wishes. At worst, your Will or parts of are no longer valid.

To ensure your Will remains current, relevant and valid you should speak to your solicitor about your Will when you encounter the following circumstances on life’s journey:

You have had a child or grandchild

If you made your Will prior to the birth of your child or children you should review your Will to ensure they are provided for. Not all basic Wills provide for the birth of future children. The same applies if you adopt a child or are living with or spending significant time with a step child.

Changes in the circumstances of your beneficiaries

If your children are going through a relationship breakdown, facing bankruptcy, entering into high risk business ventures, are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction or a mental illness there are simple estate planning techniques that can be implemented to protect their inheritance from ending up in the wrong hands or being frittered away.

If your beneficiaries are in receipt of social security benefits receiving an inheritance may see them lose their entitlement to their social security benefit. There are solutions to ensure their wealth is maximised.

You have separated or are divorced from your spouse

Once you have been formally divorced by the Court current legislation provides that your former spouse is treated as if they have died before you. Any gift to your former spouse or appointment of them as an executor will no longer apply.

However, until such time as you are formally divorced any gift to your former spouse and any appointment of them as your executor is valid. That means that they will have control of your assets and receive any gift provided to them. It is vital that your Will is reviewed as soon as you are separated to avoid this risk.

You have married since making your Will

Marriage revokes a Will unless there is a contrary intention in the Will. So, if you have made a Will providing some or all of your Estate to your children and you subsequently marry then that Will will be revoked and your wishes may not be realised. Your Will needs to specify that it is made in contemplation of marriage or a new Will must be executed after you marry for the above types of gift to remain valid.

You have started a business, re-structure a current business or set up a self managed superannuation fund

If you have started up a business, incorporated a company, set up a family trust or a self managed superfund it is essential that you review your Will and estate plan. These types of structural changes impact how you own assets and, therefore, impact the effectiveness of your Will. If you have started a business it is also important to consider your wishes for the continuation or wrapping up of the business on your death.

You may also want to review your Will on the birth of a grandchild or if you are  providing care and/or living with a grandchild.

How Can We Help?

If you have questions about reviewing your current Will, please contact us today on 02 4952 3901 or email hello@delaneyroberts.com.au for a 15 minute free consultation with one of our estate planning solicitors.

By Rebecca Wosman

Associate Solicitor