We have seen many a Will that was put in place by persons who have now passed away and we have effectively looked after their estate, obtained Probate, and carried out their wishes for their loved ones in the manner they intended. In some cases the Will they put in place over 50 years ago were still as good as the day they signed.
It’s not always the case that your circumstances from several years ago are still your circumstances today. So while in a lot of cases your Will might see you out or may cover your circumstances for a large number of years, it is best to pick up a copy of your Will every couple of years to read through and make sure that it still reflects your goals and wishes.
When do you need to update your Will?
In addition to familiarising yourself with your Will on a semi-regular basis, you should also review and update your Will whenever there are significant changes in your life circumstances or assets. Some common situations where updating your Will may be a good idea include:
Your Wills and changes in your family
This could include births, deaths, marriages, divorces, or adoptions within your immediate family or the beneficiaries mentioned in your Will. If you have entered into a blended family relationship since signing your last Will, your stepchildren may or not be covered in your Will.
If someone in your Will has died, if you have married or divorced, if you have separated, if you have started a new de facto relationship – if any of these apply to you, you need to revisit your Will.
Your Will and changes in relationships
If there is a change in your relationship with a beneficiary or executor named in your will, you may want to update your Will to reflect this. Who you trust and who you think is most appropriate for the role of executor and/or guardian of your kids may change.
Your Will and acquiring or disposing of assets
If you acquire or sell significant assets, such as property, investments or valuable possessions, you may need to ensure your Will reflects these changes. This is particularly important where your Will has made a specific gift of these assets and the beneficiary will otherwise miss out. If your accounts have changed from sole to joint (or vice versa) this will also affect how your wishes are carried out in your Will.
Your Will and changes in financial circumstances
If your financial situation significantly improves or declines, you may need to update your Will to reflect your new circumstances. Where this is most important is if your Will makes gifts of sums of money to certain loved ones and there may not be enough to cover all the gifts and/or these gifts may affect how your estate is actually distributed between all of your loved ones.
Your Will and changes in laws
Occasionally, changes in legislation can affect estate planning and Wills. It is a good idea to review your Will periodically with your lawyer to ensure it complies with current laws. If your Will doesn’t have a calamity clause that reflects your wishes (calamity clauses cover where beneficiaries have predeceased you) and the laws change as to what happens in those circumstances, there’s a good chance that your intentions may not eventuate.
You should always consult with an experienced estate planning solicitor to review your Will when your circumstances change so you have accurate and up-to-date advice – and up-to-date Wills. We are here to guide you through the process and ensure your wishes are properly documented, legally valid and cover as many eventualities as possible.
Send us an email at [email protected], give us a call on 1300 034 487 or book in an online appointment through our website here. We have free 10 minute chats if you want to know how un-scary it actually is to get your Will sorted.
We’ll look after you.