Don’t be fooled into thinking your will is something you can do once, then “set and forget”. Your will is an important document for your family’s future. Circumstances change and for that reason it’s important to review and update your will periodically. We recommend doing it at least every five years, or when a significant life event happens.
Here’s a list of situations when you should remember to review and update your will:
- if there’s a change in your relationship status (for example if you marry, enter into a de facto relationship, separate or divorce)
- if your family grows (more children or grandchildren?)
- if any of your beneficiaries pass away or have a change in their circumstances (for example a change in their relationship status, financial circumstances or health)
- if your executor passes away, or no longer wishes to act as your executor due to poor health or some other reason
- if you’ve disposed of or acquired significant assets (perhaps a business, real estate or even a piece of jewellery that has sentimental value)
- if your wishes have changed.
As lawyers, we see the problems it can cause for those left behind if someone doesn’t update their will when their circumstances change. Here are some real-life examples (with names changed).
John made a will, leaving his house to a nephew who provided a lot of care to him. John sold the house before he died but unfortunately didn’t update his will and his nephew received nothing.
Valerie made a will giving $20,000 to each of her four grandchildren—the four she had at the time. She wasn’t expecting any more grandchildren to come along but to her surprise there were two more! Because she didn’t get around to updating her will before she died, her two youngest grandchildren missed out.
David was divorced and had a will in place but then he remarried. A new marriage has the effect of revoking an existing will. This meant he died intestate (i.e. without a valid will) and a formula set by legislation determined his beneficiaries. He had no say in who benefited from his estate and in what proportions.
Making or updating a will is often something people put off doing until “later”. However it’s important to make sure your will is in place and up to date now—because you never know what the future holds. Feel free to contact our Estate Planning team on 0249293995 to discuss your will, including whether your existing will needs updating.