You drafted a Will years ago – it’s pretty basic, but it gives everything to your spouse, or, if your spouse doesn’t survive, then everything goes to your children. So, if the content of the Will applies, what is the point of doing a new Will that sets out the same wishes?
Many people see the updating of a Will as an unnecessary and costly exercise, particularly when the new Will contains the same directions as the prior Will.
Although we certainly understand the frustration with the process, there are three important reasons to ensure your Will is reviewed and updated regularly.
Firstly – a regular review of your Will is critical
There have been recent cases in Queensland that indicate that if a challenge is made against the Estate of a deceased person, and the Estate is being administered by a Will that was not recently made or reviewed, the Courts often question whether the wishes of the deceased at their date of death were the same as those contained in the Will.
There is good reason for this. We regularly hear “I’ve been meaning to update my Will for months now, especially since this happened” – life is busy, and updating a Will falls a long way down the to-do list for most people.
However, it is important to make time for the review process – attending on your solicitor to review the Will, make any alterations, or confirm your wishes can clarify your intentions for the administration of your Estate and potentially prevent an Estate challenge. There is no defined review period, however we recommend reviewing your documents with your solicitor at least every three years.
Secondly – legislation and case law changes regularly – your documents need to change with it
Legislation and Case Law in each State is constantly evolving, meaning that the way your Will is interpreted or effected may change over time.
It is important to review, and confirm or vary, your Estate planning documents with your solicitor regularly to ensure that there are no material changes to your Estate plan that result from changes in law.
Finally – has your Will been voided or revoked?
While a regular review of your Estate planning documents is important, there are certain circumstances which will void your Will – therefore, review is critical should any such occasion occur.
Marriage, for example, will revoke a Will. Unless your Will is made in contemplation of your marriage to your partner, the act of marrying will invalidate the Will.
Similarly, divorce or annulment will also revoke your Will (unless a contrary intention is specifically indicated).
It is also important to review your Will as the circumstances of yourself, your executors or your beneficiaries change – if you, your executors or your beneficiaries become subject to bankruptcy or family law proceedings, it is important to review your Estate plan to ensure that it is still appropriate and, where necessary, that appropriate protective measures are set in place.
If you need to review your Estate plan, we welcome you to contact our Estate Planning Team on 07 5574 3560 or via email.