Should I update my Will and Estate Plan? And how often should I do this?

Should I update my Will and Estate Plan? And how often should I do this?

Good estate planning ensures that your assets go to the people that you want them to go to when you die. A large part of good estate planning is having a valid and up-to-date Will. This also eliminates any angst at a time when your loved ones are grieving.

YOUR WILL

Once your Will has been signed, you should revisit it regularly to ensure that your wishes will be fulfilled when the time comes. You should also be aware that there are some circumstances in which your Will might be revoked or invalidated, in which case you will need to prepare a new one.

If your Will is revoked or invalidated and you do not prepare a new one, your previous Will or the rules of intestacy will be applied to your estate when you die. If you would like more information on what a Will is and why you should have one read our article – What is a Will and why do I need one.

CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MIGHT REVOKE OR INVALIDATE YOUR WILL

The following circumstances may result in the re-writing or revoking of all or part of your Will:

  1. marrying or entering into a registered relationship after signing your Will; or
  2. divorcing a spouse that you were married to at the time of signing your Will.

These can also revoke your Enduring Power of Attorney.

DO YOU HAVE AN OVERALL ESTATE PLAN?

An estate plan is important as it deals with assets that cannot be included in your Will, such as superannuation and assets in a family trust or company. Therefore, not only should you keep your Will up to date, it is important to review your entire estate plan to ensure that all of the assets that you control are dealt with as you wish, especially if your structure has changed at all since you last reviewed your estate plan.

EVENTS THAT MIGHT AFFECT YOUR OVERALL ESTATE PLAN

Ideally, you should revisit your estate plan at least every three to five years. Some examples of when you should revisit your estate plan sooner include where:

  1. your financial circumstances change;
  2. your family circumstances change, for example, if you marry, start a new relationship, divorce, separate, or have children or grandchildren;
  3. a beneficiary under your current Will dies;
  4. an executor or trustee appointed under your current Will dies or becomes unsuitable to act due to age or ill-health;
  5. you sell or give away assets that are specifically mentioned in your Will;
  6. you buy or inherit significant assets;
  7. you begin to hold assets that your Will cannot deal with, such as in superannuation or a trust; or
  8. the entities or structures you hold assets in change.

It is essential that any changes or updates to your Will (and other documents, such as trust deeds) are completed correctly to ensure your wishes are carried out. There is a chance that if the documentation has not been done correctly, even the smallest of changes to your Will can revoke or invalidate the entire document.

To update your estate plan or get advice on your current estate plan and Will contact a member of our team.

Written by Christopher O’Connor, Partner