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Many people believe a Will is a once and forever document. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Your Will should reflect your wishes which may change during your lifetime. There are several significant life events which coincide with the time to revise your Will. Read on to discover which life events should prompt you to re-examine your Will, and the consequences of letting this essential document collect dust.
New Children Enter the Picture
Generally, if your Will stipulates your estate is to be divided equally among your children this will apply even to children who are born after the document is drafted. However, if you have had children since the original drafting of your Will, it’s a good to review your Will, to ensure it reflects your wishes. Contact MCG Legal should any alterations need to be made. An experienced estate lawyer will be more familiar with current laws than you are, and can provide you with valuable guidance and suggestions.
You’ve Come Into Money
According to the old adage, death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. However, this is not the case – change is another certainty. As our lives are constantly changing, the plans we make must adapt to this.
Suppose, for instance, a wealthy parent or relative passes away and leaves you with a large, unexpected windfall. Perhaps, you wouldn’t change anything, and pass any additional assets on to your beneficiaries as planned. However, with your newfound financial flexibility, you may wish to divide your finances and assets in a slightly different manner than you previously planned.
Speak to one of our lawyers if you plan to change your Will to accommodate a sudden windfall or perhaps set up a trust to soften the blow of estate taxes following your death.
You Separate or Get Divorced
Unlike divorce, separation does not effect your Will. Most people don’t want to leave assets or certain rights to their former partner, or risk that he or she will contest the document. So, if you have gone through a separation since the last drafting of your Will, consider discussing the changes you will need to make with a lawyer. Regardless of your estate planning, your former partner may still attempt to contest your Will. However, a lawyer can make suggestions which can limit his or her chances of success.
Depending on which state or territory you live, a divorce in some states makes the Will invalid, however in others divorce will revoke your ex spouse as your executor or prevent them from receiving any gift left to them. If however a contrary intention appears in the Will then a former spouse may still benefit or in circumstances where a new Will is signed after a Divorce is granted.
Your Spouse Passes Away
A Will should be written in such a way that there are back up contingencies for contemplated foreseeable events. For instance, if your spouse were to predecease you, your assets may go to another relative or your children. However, it’s a wise move to review your Will if your spouse has died, as you will need to distribute your wealth and assets differently if she was the intended beneficiary and you may choose to name new back-up recipients.
You’ve Had a Change of Heart
Many people draft their Will when they are young (generally when they get married). While it’s great to plan early, remember that what seemed appealing when you were young may not be so when you’re older.
You Are Getting Married
If you get married and your will was not made “in contemplation of marriage” then the Will executed before you get married will be invalid.
You Want to Account for Charitable Giving
Later in life you may become involved in certain charities or non-profit organisations, such as a church, or the Cancer Council. If you want these parties to receive money, or assets which can benefit them upon your death, a formal change to your Will is essential. Speak to one of our Wills and Estate Lawyers on the Gold Coast to ensure your chosen charity or non-profit organisation can benefit from your Will.
If any of these major events have occurred in your life and you would like to update your Will, don't delay, contact MCG Legal.