The five key life events to trigger a review of your will
How often should I review my Will?
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question.
However, there are some key life events which should definitely trigger a review of your estate planning arrangements.
A change in your relationship status
“Single”, “married”, “in a relationship”, or “it’s complicated”? As well as updating your Facebook status, be sure to have a look at your Will:
- Marriage will invalidate a Will. It is possible to prepare a Will “in contemplation of marriage”, so that the Will continues to operate after your happy day, but if you were single when you made your Will, then you will need a new Will after your marriage
- Divorce will not automatically invalidate a Will, but the operation of the Wills Act will have an effect on gifts to your former wife or husband. It’s best not to rely on the operation of the Wills Act though – check with your solicitor to make sure your Will still operates as intended
- Entering a new de facto relationship may give rights to your new partner to share in your estate. We often see arguments when someone dies resulting in expensive litigation, particularly when family members may not have known, or accepted, that a genuine relationship existed
Contemplating retirement, or retiring
You’ve worked hard, and now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Right now, your financial affairs are probably as complicated as they will ever be, but that provides great opportunity to ensure that your assets (in particular, your superannuation) are structured to ensure your assets are passing to your beneficiaries in the most tax-effective manner.
Buying or selling property
It’s important to ensure that the property you have worked so hard to acquire is left in accordance with your wishes. Likewise, the sale of a property is a good chance to reflect on your estate planning goals.
This is when I often meet people for the first time – as they are starting to think about ‘grown-up’ responsibilities, and how to care for a new bundle of joy which has just arrived.
Entering into business
There are a number of ways to structure a business – sole trader, Pty Ltd trading company, and partnership, just to name just a few – and each has different estate planning consequences.
A good tip is to put a copy of your Will with your important tax records. That way, when it comes time to do the tax return each year, you will be reminded to review your Will. It should be ok – but if you are not sure, simply give one of our friendly lawyers a call.