Keep it current
Keep it current
Preparing your Will is important. Reviewing and updating your Will to ensure it is still current is just as important. Keeping a current and valid Will is the best way you can ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes when you die.
Your Will should reflect any significant changes to your relationship, including marriage, entering a de facto relationship, divorce or separation.
Whether you’re getting together or growing apart, it’s important to understand the effect that marriage, divorce or separation can have on your Will.
If you are single and have a current Will, you might not be aware that your Will becomes invalid if you marry. If you have children from a previous marriage or other people you wish to provide for, your new relationship change may mean that your wishes aren’t carried out in the way that you’d planned.
In fact, there’s only one exception where a Will does not become invalid upon marriage – that is if you made it prior to marriage, and it expressly states that it is made ‘in contemplation of marriage’.
De facto relationships
Moving in with a de facto partner does not immediately have the same impact on a Will as marriage. However, over time you and your partner each develop rights to each other’s property. These rights may conflict with the wishes set out in your Will.
If you were to separate, and you passed away before a property settlement between you and your de facto partner is reached, keeping your Will updated is one way you can ensure your assets are left to the right people.
Separation and divorce
Marriage separation itself doesn’t have an effect on your Will. However, during a separation period it’s important to ensure that your Will reflects your changed circumstances.
If you pass away during a period of separation from your partner, and haven’t updated your Will, your spouse may inherit any property you left to them. Similarly, if your Will names your spouse as an executor, trustee or guardian they will still be entitled to take up that role regardless of whether you want them to or not.
Divorce can affect your will, but the extent of which is different in each state and territory. In some cases, divorce will automatically render your will invalid. In others, divorce will simply revoke your former spouse as your executor as well as any gift left them.
However, this does not occur if the Court is satisfied that you didn’t intend by divorce to retract the executor appointment or gift.
To ensure your wishes in relation to your former spouse are clearly understood and executed, it’s best to update your Will after a divorce.
A modern family structure can be complicated, with circumstances including second marriages and blended families. Blended families can sometimes be complex, and may involve children from the current relationship, children from previous relationships, step-children and ex-spouses. It’s important to get advice from someone who can understand your situation in detail and discuss the available options with you.
The process of updating your Will does not need to be complex, time consuming or costly. But it does give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out as you had planned. If you have changed circumstances – whether change in personal circumstances, death of a spouse or executor named in your Will, or purchase or sale of assets – you should review and update your Will as soon as possible.
Call us today on 02 6331 7666 if you would like to prepare or update your Will.