It is sensible to review your will regularly. It could be that a will made many years ago is still appropriate, just as it may be that a recently made will is now out of date. Ideally you should review your will annually, along with other annual events, such as lodging your taxation returns. It is likely that your needs and circumstances will change many times in the course of your life and with those changes it is prudent to consider your will.
Making a will simply shows a level of care in not wanting to give loved ones any more stress to deal with than they will already face if something should happen to you. But life changes will create problems for others in interpreting your wishes in any will you have already made and may undo all the good work you have done to protect those close to you by making one. It can make your will ineffective or even invalid.
There are some clear events that occur that should indicate a review of your will is necessary.
Marriage and Civil Unions
Marriage (or a civil union) revokes a will even if your current will appoints your intended spouse as a beneficiary.
There are limited exceptions but the will needs to be looked at by an expert to ensure that the exceptions apply.
Divorce and Separation
Divorce can have unintended effects on wills.
In some instances, it makes the whole will invalid. In others, it simply revokes a gift to a former spouse.
In the case of separation, the situation is so complex that it is essential for you to review your will with a solicitor.
Whilst the advent of a baby is a blessing, any will that was made prior to the birth of children is usually deficient.
Where there are children the will needs to address who will look after the financial affairs for my children, who will be the guardians and how the care provided by the guardians will be funded.
Many of my clients are also concerned that their children whilst considered by law to be adults at the age of 18 may in fact not be mature enough to handle an inheritance at that time in their life. In these circumstances a trust can be established in the will to provide for them until they reach a certain age.
Other significant issues could apply here as well, including considering the special needs of intellectually or severely disabled children, or children with other issues such as gambling or drug addiction.
Apart from the family home, superannuation is often a person’s largest asset.
Do you realise that your will may not and usually doesn’t determine where your super will be paid?
It may well be that “nameless faceless” trustees will make this important decision after your death and will probably give the terms of your will little consideration.
This is a complex area of the law that is rapidly evolving and changing.
If you want to sure that this extremely important asset is dealt with in the manner you require, you should discuss this with me.
The conclusion: review your will at regular intervals
It is almost impossible to say how often this review is necessary. For some, as suggested earlier, it is every 12 months (or even in some cases, more often than that!) Others can safely review their wills every 3-5 years. The important thing is to consider your circumstances at every major personal milestone in your life.
Overall, it really depends on the circumstances that are unique to you. To discuss the review of your will, ring Brian Tetlow on 02 6140 3263 or email [email protected]