It is important to have a Will to make sure your wishes are followed and your assets are distributed as you would want after you are no longer around.
If you don’t have a Will your assets will be divided according to how the law dictates in the rules of intestacy (Note: intestacy is the legal term for when you did and have not made a Will). If you die intestate it is very likely that your estate will not be distributed as you would have desired. You can also use your Will to indicate to your family and friends your wishes on other important matters, such as who you want to be the guardians of your children.
Making a Will eases the stress that your loved ones may have at an already difficult time.
See below our three top tips for a healthy and up to date Will:
1. Regularly review your Will
Preparing a Will is not a one-off event. It is sensible to review your Will regularly, and we suggest that this be done a minimum of every three to five years.
Changes in your life may create problems for others in interpreting your wishes in a Will you have already made. In some cases changes in your circumstances and not reviewing your Will may undo all the good work you have done to protect those close to you by making one. It could make your earlier Will ineffective or even invalid.
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.
2. Healthy Will Checklist
There are a number of life events that can impact on your Will and which mean you need to revisit and update it.
Here is a checklist of life changes which can impact on the validity of your Will and which you need to consider in examining the legal health of your existing Will.
- Have you married? Or separated from your partner?
- Have you had any children?
- Is the person you named as executor, to carry out the wishes in your Will, still alive and well enough to do the job?
- Have the circumstances of any beneficiaries changed to make you reconsider your wishes, or have any of them died?
- Have you nominated any specific gifts that are no longer valid or don’t exist, for example, have you sold a property that you had left to someone in the Will?
- Have you acquired any new assets that you would want to make specific plans for in your Will?
3. Don’t forget your Superannuation
At the same time as you check the health of your Will, you need to check your super and life insurance, which is often now a part of your super policy.
Many people assume their superannuation will be divided up in accordance with the wishes in their Will, but that is not necessarily the case. You need to look at your super policy to check how you have nominated that your super should be distributed and that it is still allocated in the way you want.
At the same time, check the division of any life insurance you have in your policy, and update it if necessary.
The important thing is to consider your circumstances at every major personal milestone in your life.
Any Will you have made is likely to become out of date and may no longer accurately represent your wishes in some way following changes in your life. It will depend on circumstances that are unique to you.