So you’ve made a Will and you’re feeling organised. You put a copy of your Will into a drawer or folder with other personal papers and you move on.
However, your Will needs to be reviewed if your circumstances change. Many people don’t realise that your Will is invalid if you marry after making it, unless it is made specifically in contemplation of your marriage (and the Will states so).
This is particularly important as dying without a valid Will is the same as dying without a Will. That means your estate is distributed as per the Administration Act. That might not be what you want or what your surviving family need.
For example, if you are married with children, a Will made before your marriage may have left everything to your spouse. That Will is invalidated by your marriage, so if you die before making another Will, you die intestate. Your estate is now distributed in accordance with the Administration Act. Under the Act your spouse receives the household chattels, personal belongings and any vehicles. Your spouse then receives the first $155,000. The balance however is divided into thirds – your spouse receives 1/3 and your children share in the remaining 2/3. If your children are young and being supported by your spouse, this may not be what you wanted for your spouse.
It is important to review your Will at least every five years, or if any of the following events happen:
- You begin a de facto relationship, marry, separate or divorce;
- You have children or begin living with someone with children;
- You change your name, or anyone mentioned in the Will changes theirs;
- An executor dies, or cannot act due to age, ill-health, or lack of capacity;
- A beneficiary dies; or
- You have specifically gifted property which you subsequently sell.
It is important that you read your Will when significant life events happen to make sure your Will remains relevant and valid. It is worth telling your lawyer when such life events happen so they can check whether your Will needs updating.