When do I need a new will?

As a gen­er­al rule you should have your Will amend­ed (or get a new Will draft­ed if amend­ing isn’t pos­si­ble) when you expe­ri­ence a major change in your life or a sig­nif­i­cant event, for example:

  • You plan to get mar­ried. Say­ing those mag­i­cal words I do” may revoke your exist­ing Will. For peace of mind, and to ensure your spouse is cared for as you intend, you can either obtain a com­plete­ly new Will once you are mar­ried, or obtain a Will in con­tem­pla­tion of mar­riage before you get mar­ried, the lat­ter of which is usu­al­ly a good idea if you plan to get mar­ried overseas.
  • You are sep­a­rat­ed or divorced. If you are sep­a­rat­ed but not divorced it is very impor­tant that your Will is updat­ed to reflect your cur­rent cir­cum­stances. If you die and do not amend your Will your assets may end up in the hands of your ex partner.
  • Death of your execu­tor named in your Will. It is a good idea to update your Will when the execu­tor named in your Will dies, espe­cial­ly when an alter­nate execu­tor is not appoint­ed. If your execu­tor dies before you and you have not appoint­ed an alter­nate execu­tor, the court will appoint an admin­is­tra­tor to take the place of the execu­tor. To stay in con­trol of your affairs ensure you have a liv­ing execu­tor and alter­nate execu­tor appoint­ed in your Will at all times.
  • Changes in the law. The law in the area of Wills and Estates is con­stant­ly chang­ing. It is a good idea to have your Will reviewed by a solic­i­tor spe­cial­is­ing in the area of Wills and Estates from time to time to ensure your Will remains up to date and valid.
  • You change your mind about who you want to inher­it a por­tion of your prop­er­ty. You should amend your Will so that your Will reflects your inten­tions at all times, how­ev­er keep in mind Fam­i­ly Pro­vi­sion Chap­ters of the Suc­ces­sion Act that empow­er cer­tain per­sons to make a claim against your estate where ade­quate pro­vi­sion is not made for them under your Will.
  • You have chil­dren. You can bet­ter pro­vide for your chil­dren by hav­ing tes­ta­men­tary trusts in your Will. There are tax­a­tion, asset pro­tec­tion (against bank­rupt­cy and in some cas­es divorce) and oth­er ben­e­fits for hav­ing tes­ta­men­tary trusts in your Will. Tes­ta­men­tary trusts are also use­ful when a ben­e­fi­cia­ry is either inca­pable of man­ag­ing their own affairs or is vul­ner­a­ble to exploita­tion, for exam­ple, where a ben­e­fi­cia­ry is dis­abled or has spend­thrift tendencies.
  • To change the guardian of your child (or chil­dren). A guardian is the per­son you nom­i­nate in your Will to raise your child in the unlike­ly event that both you and your spouse become per­ma­nent­ly inca­pac­i­tat­ed or die. You should ensure you amend your Will if the guardian appoint­ed under your Will dies. This is impor­tant to ensure your child is raised by the per­son of your choice and not by some­one appoint­ed by the Court!
  • You acquire or dis­pose of sub­stan­tial or sen­ti­men­tal assets. If you’ve made a spe­cif­ic gift of prop­er­ty in your Will and you sub­se­quent­ly sell the gift, you should amend your will to remove ref­er­ence to the gift. Like­wise, if you obtain new prop­er­ty, for exam­ple a new ring with sen­ti­men­tal val­ue, and you decide to leave it to some­one spe­cif­ic, you’ll need to amend your will to make your wish­es clear. If you fail to do this your ring will form part of the resid­ual of your estate and will like­ly be sold!

Obvi­ous­ly this list is by no means exhaus­tive. It does, how­ev­er, serve to high­light some of the more com­mon sit­u­a­tions that should prompt you to review your Will. Should you have any queries with rela­tion to your estate plan­ning require­ments, or should you like us to review your exist­ing Will to ensure it is up to date and valid, please do not hes­i­tate to give us a call.