When do you need to make a new will?

When do you need to make a new will?

Personal estate planning is an evolving process. It is very rare for our circumstances to remain static throughout our lifetime, which means that just making a will is not enough – you should be aware that you need to review your estate plan regularly, and particularly when your personal circumstances change significantly.

It is estimated that about 59% of Australians have a will.  In our experience, many of these wills are outdated and need to be reviewed (and, where appropriate, replaced) regularly.

After completing an estate plan for our clients, we recommend that our clients regularly review their estate plan to ensure that they meet their current requirements, and explain some of the circumstances that may warrant an update, whether by operation of law or change in personal circumstances.

These circumstances include:

Marriage

Unless a will is made in contemplation of a marriage, it is revoked by marriage, with the exception of some dispositions and appointments.

Registered Relationships

As  with marriage, unless a will is made in contemplation of entry into a registered relationship , it is revoked by entry into the registered relationship, with the exception of some dispositions and appointments.

It is important to note that the Succession Act 1981 (Qld) specifically makes reference to marriage or registered relationships – the entry into a de facto relationship will not automatically trigger a revocation of an existing will.

Divorce

Divorce (or annulment) revokes dispositions and grants to, and appointments of, the former spouse in the will.  Depending on how the will is drafted and the testator’s circumstances, these revocations can result in a partial (or full) intestacy.  It is important to note that separation (rather than legal divorce) will not have the same legal effect on a will.

Ending a registered relationship

As with divorce, the termination of a registered relationship (or a finding that a registered relationship is void) will revoke dispositions and grants to, and appointments of, the former registered partner in a will.

Birth of children

The birth of children does not automatically affect the content of a will (although it does change entitlements in an intestacy), but is a circumstance warranting the review of an existing will, and particular consideration should be given to the appointment of testamentary guardians and adequate maintenance.

Death or loss of capacity

Following the death (or loss of capacity) of a key person (such as a beneficiary, executor or guardian), a will that appoints that person should be reviewed.

Significant change in personal financial position

The acquisition (or disposal) of a significant asset (such as a family home), or the establishment of a new business or investment structure, warrants a review of an existing estate plan.

Receiving an inheritance should also trigger a review of an estate plan.

Regular reviews

Regardless of the above specific events, we generally recommend that people review their estate plans every two years or so to ensure that they appropriately meet their current circumstances.

What should you do if you want to review your estate plan?

We generally consider that replacing a will in its entirety is preferable to preparing a codicil, although as always, it depends on the circumstances.

We are happy to discuss reviewing your current estate plan (or preparing a new estate plan if you do not have one) and offer discounted fees for clients for whom we have prepared estate plans for previously.

Contact us on (07) 5606 7332 to discuss this or any other matter.

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